MERRICK MORTON/NETFLIX via Daily Beast
Mindhunter is a television series recently offered by Netflix, directed by a select group including David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network), Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm andAndrew Douglas. Based on the book Inside FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by Mark Olshaker and Andrew Douglas.
The series tells the story of two FBI agents: Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench ( Holt McCallany), who join forces to get to the bottom of a bizarre criminal phenomenon: the profile of murderers who break all stereotypes. Set at the end of the seventies, with brilliant script writing and cinematography, Mindhunter brings together the optimal elements to become one of the most successful and controversial series of the year.
In effect, Netflix has scored again, presenting a story whose central drama is bound to strike a chord with a wide audience devoted to the genre of police suspense, in line with the current trend to deal with strongly transgressive themes.
The main storyline revolves around the origin of the psychological deviations that incite criminality , all of them framed in the harsh context of family abuse. This idea is crudely captured in the first few episodes of the series with a host of jarring images, but not only for the sake of showing morbid scenes. The well-constructed narrative takes the viewer down the difficult path of human psychology. The viewer is often challenged to think and draw his own conclusions about the interior life of the human being, that is, the “resources” for finding the reasons for our behaviour.
The dialogues between Holden and Bill, both of them involved in the FBI’s emerging sciences of human conduct division, are also challenging. Making use of their criminological expertise, the investigators gradually reveal the mysterious theme of the murders in question. The drama of the series is intensified by the perplexity that the viewer is meant to experience in witnessing the workings of the criminal mind and its roots, in relation to one of the greatest existential themes: that of feeling loved.
Over the series’ 10 episodes both agents, Holden and Bill, grow to have an honest understanding about the criminal mind through interviews with each of the notorious murderers. These criminals never fail to mention a recurring theme at the core of their dysphoria: family crisis. It is evident that each of these sordid figures was lacking the attention and affection of their parents throughout their lives. Without any reservations, mention is made of influences such as radical feminism, male chauvinism, drugs, sexual promiscuity, individualism, domestic violence, and the loneliness of children.
Within these disturbing but credible stories we perhaps find the ulterior motive of the series: an invitation for parents to reflect on their family duties, in the midst of a society that applauds selfishness and abandons the classical notion of adulthood, which in essence consists of knowing how to take care of others.
In the middle of this heartbreaking plot, the most difficult human dilemmas are examined and the worst version of the human being shows itself, with all its cruel effects. In light of this, it is evident that cowardice and indifference cannot be options in a world that demands heroism and sacrifice of all members of society.
Mindhunter removes the blindfold from viewers’ eyes and reveals major cultural and familial tribulations. In this it follows series like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, In Treatment, Shameless, and Dexter, in all of which the figure of the father as an antihero stands out — although in the case of Mindhunter his absence in family life is highlighted.
Also, the series explains quite plainly and with a scientific focus a principle that up to now had not been taken seriously: the lives of children matter.
Note : The series has sexually explicit scenes, nudity, and coarse language.
Rafael Hurtado and Rafael García are contributors to Rome-based Family and Media, a MercatorNet partner site. This article is an edited version of the original on the Family and Media blog. Republished with permission.