Why using comedy to cope with the horrors of the world is nothing to laugh at.

On the surface, "My Favorite Murder" is just another true-crime podcast, a way for people to listen to the highlights of some of the darkest moments in human history.

It attracts listeners — dubbed "murderinos" by co-hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff — who know things like which serial killer built a "murder castle" (H. H. Holmes) and which one dressed up as Pogo the Clown (John Wayne Gacy).

Image via iStock.


But there’s clearly more to the story when your fans start cross-stitching memorable quotes and making baked goods with Ted Bundy's face on them. The podcast attracts a certain kind of listener because it offers them the chance to do something they rarely get to do: have a good laugh about murder.

That’s right. "My Favorite Murder" is a comedy podcast.

Kilgariff (left) and Hardstark. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

Blending horror and comedy may seem like an unlikely formula for success, but less than a year after it launched, Entertainment Weekly named it one of the 10 best podcasts of the year.

The desire to talk about true crime is rooted in more than fascination. It’s born from a need to use humor to cope with the horrors of the world.

"Look, I’m scared of dying so … all of this makes me feel better," Kilgariff admitted early on in the podcast. "It’s as if we could ward it off with just our positive verbal energies."

Image via iStock.

As the creator and executive producer of MTV’s "Sweet/Vicious," Jennifer Kaytin Robinson knows a little something about finding the humor in hard topics. Her show, which follows two female vigilantes who seek justice for victims of sexual assault and other crimes, is also a comedy (albeit a dark one).

"I don’t know what the world looks like anymore if people stop finding humor in what’s happening," Robinson says. "That’s not to say that you should normalize what’s happening, and that’s not to say it’s not serious and I’m not taking it seriously. I just think nothing can ever be sad all the time. It just can’t."

Although we can turn a blind eye to the injustices around us, there's a case to be made for acknowledging them and laughing when we can.  

Because the reality is horrible things will happen whether or not we’re paying attention.

And these things do happen. If the premise of "Sweet/Vicious" seems absurd to you, ask yourself why two college students — even fictional ones — would have to take this kind of action in the first place. It's not a stretch to believe two girls would get fed up and take matters into their own hands when we live in a country where 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college and a time in which advocates are concerned about the future of Title IX protections under the current administration.

Image via "Sweet/Vicious"/MTV.

Grounding storylines in real issues is what makes shows like "Sweet/Vicious" so powerful. Doing so offers victims comfort because they get to see versions of their stories played out on screen. It gives them something to point to and say, "That happens. I know because it happened to me."

"One woman reached out to me on Twitter and told me she was assaulted (and I would never say this if it was a private message; this was a public message) and could never really talk to her dad about it," Robinson says. "And her father and her watch the show every week together ... she told him what happened, but she doesn’t have to get specific because they can just watch. He just understands. He knows."

By leaning into discomfort and finding humor in those experiences, we learn that feeling vulnerable doesn’t mean living in fear.

The creators of "My Favorite Murder" and "Sweet/Vicious" have seen how audience members have been able to regain control of their narratives and better understand their place in the world.

"The most amazing thing about the show is the amount of people who have reached out and said, 'Because of this show, I have gotten help, and I have felt worthy of getting help and deserving of a life, and I have been able to see that this doesn’t define me and isn’t my fault,'" Robinson says.

At the end of the day (or episode), humor offers us one way to take some power back in a world where many of us feel powerless.

And that’s nothing to laugh at.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

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"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

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"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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