Inside 'Mindhunter' Mania: The Real Killers vs. Their TV Portrayals

How mindful is 'Mindhunter' of the Facts?

The poster for the Netflix show Mindhunter.Mindhunter Oliver Cooper featured photo
Photo Credit: Netflix
True Crime
Inside 'Mindhunter' Mania: The Real Killers vs. Their TV Portrayals

How mindful is 'Mindhunter' of the Facts?

Mindhunter is a mind-messing smash hit for Netflix. The show takes you into the minds of some of the most fascinating and fearsome serial killers in modern United States history. But how does the show differ from what happened in real life … or does it differ at all?

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The show follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) while they begin criminal profiling, which used elements of psychology and sociology in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Their FBI Behavioral Science Unit is assisted by fellow agents Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), who specializes in psychological profiles, Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle), Robert Shepard (Cotter Smith) and Ted Gunn (Michael Cerveris).

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The groundbreaking show spotlights the envelope-pushing work the unit did in profiling and catching these murderers. The series’ dark tone and emotive power is riveting because it comes from the mind of noted director David Fincher (Gone Girl, Zodiac, Panic Room, etc.). Charlize Theron is one of the show’s executive producers.

Let’s look at Mindhunter to see what they got right about the investigation into these serial killers and what was played up or introduced for dramatic purposes.