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Pop Culture

Psychologist breaks down the real reason we love true crime, and it's blowing people's minds

What is it about this pop culture juggernaut that has us hooked?

truen crime, mel robbins
GIPHY, @melrobbins/TikTok

One in three Americans consume true crime content

Unlike the murder victims it centers around, there seems to be no end in sight for true crime, and the cult-like following it inspires. One in three Americans consume true crime content—be it in the form of a podcast, movies, television series, books, even online forums and videos—at least once a week. Thirteen percent of those folks would even say it’s their favorite genre.

But just what is it about this pop culture juggernaut that has us hooked? Danger and suspense? Mystery? Our fascination with the dark side of humanity?

Perhaps. But according to one psychologist, there’s another insidious reason lurking in the shadows of our subconscious.

While appearing on a recent episode of “The Mel Robbins Podcast,” Dr. Thema Bryant told viewers:

“If your idea of relaxing before you go to sleep is watching three episodes of ‘Law & Order,’ I would encourage you to think about, ‘Why is trauma relaxing to me?’”

Driving the point home, Bryant follows up with, “That’s what it is. It’s harm, crime violation, attacks, and that’s what’s going to soothe me into my bedtime.”

Bryant explained that her clients who engage in this activity often say they enjoy it because it feels “normal and familiar.”

In other words, some of us might be crime aficionados because of unresolved trauma.

@melrobbins If your idea of “relaxing” before bed is watching a few episodes of Law & Order (or any other #truecrime show), listen up. This was just ONE of the many incredible mic drop moments 🎤 and knowledge bombs 💣 that @Dr Thema Bryant drops on the #melrobbinspodcast. Listen now!! 👉 “6 Signs You’re Disconnected From Your Power and How to Get It Back: Life-Changing Advice From the Remarkable Dr. Thema Bryant” 🔗 in bio #melrobbins #podcast #trauma #traumatok #healing #bingewatching ♬ original sound - Mel Robbins

“Some of us grew up in high stress, so people mistake peace for boring,” she said. “And it’s like, to come home to yourself, you have to lean into the discomfort, because it’s gonna feel unfamiliar.”

Bryant’s perspective was a bit of a mic drop moment online, with several true-crime fans coming to some shocking self realizations.

“[And] this was the moment I realized . . . I haven’t watched [‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’] since I went to therapy and started healing,” another person wrote. one person wrote on TikTok.

“Gut drop…Off to journal,” wrote another.

Over on Youtube, folks had a similar reaction.

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“Ouch! Hit home! Never ever thought about that. Wow!” exclaimed one viewer.

Still, others weren’t so sold on the theory, and attested that there was much more nuance to their intrigue.

One person argued “The trauma isn’t relaxing to me- it’s the justice the characters/real people often get that I never did in my own life.”

Or maybe, a few suggested, people listen to true crime simply for its distinct monotonous timbre.

“I really thought it's because of the boring solemn tone of the show, the soothing voice of the narrator,” one person quipped.

There might be other components at play as well. According to YouGov.com, over half of all American true crime consumers say it not only gives them a better understanding of the justice system, but it makes them more empathetic as well—which goes against the common sentiment that the genre desensitizes people to violence and makes them overly fearful or paranoid.

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As any good detective knows, all motivations are worth considering. I think we can all agree that it’s always interesting to contemplate why we do the things we do. Whether that’s committing a crime, or using one to go to sleep.

A young mom with her kids in the ER.

Sage Pasch’s unique family situation has attracted a lot of attention recently. The 20-something mother of 2 shared a 6-second TikTok video on September 29 that has been viewed over 33 million times because it shows how hard it can be for young moms to be taken seriously.

In the video, the young-looking Pasch took her son Nick to the ER after he injured his leg at school. But when the family got to the hospital, the doctor couldn’t believe Pasch was his mother. “POV, we’re at the ER, and the doctor didn’t believe I was the parent,” she captioned the post.


Pasch and her fiancé , Luke Faircloth, adopted the teen in 2022 after his parents tragically died two years apart. “Nick was already spending so much time with us, so it made sense that we would continue raising him,” Pasch told Today.com.

The couple also has a 17-month-old daughter named Lilith.

@coffee4lifesage

He really thought i was lying😭

Pasch says that people are often taken aback by her family when they are out in public. "Everybody gets a little confused because my fiancé and I are definitely younger to have a teenager," she said. "It can be very frustrating."

It may be hard for the young parents to be taken seriously, but their story has made a lot of people in a similar situation feel seen. "Omg, I feel this. I took my son to the ER, and they asked for the guardian. Yes, hi, that's me," Brittany wrote in the comments. "Meee with my teenager at a parent-teacher conference. They think I’m her older sister and say we need to talk with your parents," KatMonroy added.


This article originally appeared on 10.24.23

Representative image by Chino Rocha on Unsplash

Lasting relationships include a lot of shared joy.

Few couples make it to 60 years of marriage, as either divorce or death usually hit before that milestone. So it's a rare treat to get to see a couple who's been married that long interact with one another.

That's one reason a video shared by a woman named Jennifer (@jennjensc) on TikTok has so many people talking. The other reason is that it's a just hilariously delightful.

"My parents have been married 63 years. My mom was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s doing chemo and radiation and smiling all she can!” Jennifer wrote in the caption.

In the video, Jennifer tells her dad, "Papa," that "Nana" is trying on her new wig. "So be encouraging," Jennifer says, to which he responds, "She's trying on wigs? That's good."


To his credit, he tried to be encouraging…which lasted about two seconds once he saw her. When Nana came through the doorway with a long, braided black wig parted down the middle, her husband said, "Well, look at that…" And then honesty hit, followed by peals of laughter.

Watch:

When you've been together with someone for over six decades, there's not a lot that you can hide from one another, and this entire interaction proof. The sheer honesty of "I don't believe I like that," and "You look like Willie Nelson!" are so real, and the fact that they busted out laughing together speaks to the power of humor in a lasting relationship.

"He was really ready in his heart to try and be encouraging 😂😂😂," wrote one commenter.

"They are the cutest! I love how he started “ohhh, look at that!” And then couldn’t even handle lying to her 😂😂😂," wrote another.

"He made her LAUGH, which is way better than lying ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️" shared another.

"I love this. You can tell there’s a lot of love with all the laughter," shared another.

And it doesn't end there. Nana took the Willie Nelson bit even further in a follow-up video that showcases just how much humor plays a role in their lives.

@jennjensc

Today nan finshed the halfway mark of chemo and radiation. She is feeling great. She so enjoys akl tge comments prayers and good vibes ! #nana #papa #willie #journey #chemo #radation #lungcancer #faith #laughter#love

Nana and Papa, who are 81 and 83 respectively, were high school sweethearts. They met at a roller rink, "and we've been going 'round together ever since," Nana said in another video. "Sometimes we've been goin' 'round and 'round," she added with a giggle. The two really are an adorable couple, and as people have shared in the comments, they're an inspiration for what a relationship can be even after over 60 years together.

The most common wedding vow includes the phrase "in sickness and in health," and the fact that these two are still having so many laughs together as Nana goes through radiation and chemotherapy exemplifies that phrase. They've been a team for almost their entire lives, and a cancer diagnosis isn't going to get in the way of that.

You can follow more of Nana's and Papa's love story on Jennifer's TIkTok here.

Joy

Gen X has hit 'that stage' of life and is not handling it very well

We are NOT prepared for Salt-n-Pepa to replace Michael McDonald in the waiting room at the doctor's office, thankyouverymuch.

Gen X is eating dinner earlier and earlier. It's happening.

The thing about Gen X being in our 40s and 50s now is that we were never supposed to get "old." Like, we're the cool, aloof grunge generation of young tech geniuses. Most of the giants that everyone uses every day—Google, Amazon, YouTube—came from Gen X. Our generation is both "Friends" and "The Office." We are, like, relevant, dammit.

And also, our backs hurt, we need reading glasses, our kids are in college and how in the name of Jennifer Aniston's skincare regimen did we get here?

It's weird to reach the stage when there's no doubt that you aren't young anymore. Not that Gen X is old—50 is the new 30, you know—but we're definitely not young. And it seems like every day there's something new that comes along to shove that fact right in our faces. When did hair start growing out of that spot? Why do I suddenly hate driving at night? Why is this restaurant so loud? Does that skin on my arm look…crepey?


As they so often do, Penn and Kim Holderness from The Holderness Family have captured the Gen X existential crisis in a video that has us both nodding a long and laughing out loud. Salt-n-Pepa in the waiting room at the doctor's office? Uh, no. That's a line we are not ready to cross yet. Nirvana being played on the Classic Rock station? Nope, not prepared for that, either.

Watch:

Hoo boy, the denial is real, isn't it? We grew up on "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, for goodness sake, and it's starting to feel like we made a wrong choice a chapter or two back and suddenly landed our entire generation in a time warp. This isn't real, is it? Thirty years ago was the 1970s. That's just a Gen X fact. So what if we've lived long enough for our high school fashions to go out of style and then back into style and then back out of style again?

Seriously, though, we can either lament our age and stage in life or we can laugh about it, and people are grateful to the Holdernesses for assisting with the latter. Gen X fans are also thrilled to see their own experiences being validated, because at this point, we've all had that moment in the grocery store or the waiting room when one of our jams came on and we immediately went into a panic.

"They were playing The Cure in the grocery store and I almost started crying," wrote one commenter. "I mean, how 'alternative' can you be if you're being played in Krogers? You guys are great! Thanks for making us laugh."

"I couldn’t believe it when I heard Bohemian Rhapsody being played in Walmart," shared another. "That was edgy in my day."

"I know!!! Bon Jovi at the grocery store!!! That was my clue in!!" added another.

"Long live Gen Xers! We have to be strong!! We can get through this together!! #NKOTBmeetsAARP" wrote on commenter.You can find more from the Holderness Family on their Facebook page, their podcast and their website, theholdernessfamily.com.


This article originally appeared on 1.28.24

Joy

People share their partner's weirdest quirks that they've learned to love

Sometimes a healthy relationship means accepting your partner thinks out loud…all the time.

Representative Image from Canva

Ah, that special moment of realizing your beloved is an absolute weirdo.

There comes a time in every long term relationship when the honeymoon phase has ended, and your partner’s little quirks begin to reveal themselves. You know, that habit of hogging the blanket at night, or making an audible “ah” sound after every sip of soda. Those fun little idiosyncrasies that are both endearing and exasperating all at the same time.

And while these pet peeves can be aggravating, they also invite love on a deeper level. When you can truly appreciate someone for their imperfections, without judgment or resentment—and they can do the same for you—the result is more humor, trust, connection and joy. Frustrations dissolve into moments of laughter. And flaws become celebrations of each other’s humanity.

Recently, someone asked the folks on Reddit to share the “weirdest thing” their partners did, that they’ve learned to accept. The answers were adorable, hilarious, strange, and all around a fairly profound glimpse at what human relationships are all about.

Let’s take a look.


"When he's alone, he talks to himself in 3rd person, making comments on the things he's doing. 'Ladies and gentlemen, xxxx has done it again, he's made the best omelet in history.. for the 3rd time this month. He's the man of the year. Look at him getting a glass, and opening the fridge.. oooh is he going for orange juice? yes he is! okay now he needs to do something but what was it? ah righttt the toast. The toast, everybody. He almost forgot the toast.' Stuff like that. I'm glad he does it loudly, it's hilarious. Especially when he gets tired and stops mid-sentence but keeps doing what he's doing in silence. Even funnier when he starts speaking again all of a sudden."

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"She never, ever, ever eats the last bite of anything. She'll always have a bite of whatever left on her plate after a meal. She's never once, in the 20 years I've been with her, eaten the last piece of pizza. She'll never take the last peanut. I've never seen her finish a can of Pringles. Upside for me: I get the last everything."

"When he wakes up in the morning, he puts on ALL his clothes, just to walk to the bathroom, take them off and have shower. Why?? I will never understand that lol"

"My wife is a neat freak, always cleans up after herself and is putting things away. However I noticed that when she runs out of toilet paper she will just take the new roll and stand it on top of the empty tube instead of replacing it. I asked her why she does that and she said “it’s the one thing I allow myself to be lazy about”. I think it’s hilarious. OR My amazing, incredible wife absolutely refuses to reload the TP roll. It is complete out of character for her, but it's such a locked in behavior I have given up on correcting it. At least she isn't putting it on backwards!!"

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"He lays on the floor to decompress, which isn't too bizarre. But he lays down in weird spots and occasionally accidentally scares the shit out of me. One time, he was lying on the floor in the front entrance closet, petting the cat, and fell asleep. I just saw his legs on the ground sticking out from the closet. My first thought was that he had fallen, hurt himself, and was unconscious. But he was just snuggling the cat. Another time, I couldn't find him anywhere in the house and started to freak out. But he was lying on the back deck on his belly, talking to the skunk that lives under the deck. This was at night. So all I see is a man sprawled on the deck in the dark. Scared me silly."

"She sleeps with her eyes open occasionally, and will also sometimes laugh like someone just told her the greatest joke ever told while sleeping. I've accepted my little demon."

"He always finds random objects around the house to make into a 'hat' for me. Fresh laundry? Hat. Random plushies? Hat. Bubble wrap? Hat. Then he makes one for himself, we take a funny picture and hang it on our 'hat photos' wall."

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"She does gatherer things. bringing little trinkets home and presenting them to me. I always say very impressive! she puts little piles of things all over the house and gets upset if they are disturbed or I suggest getting rid of them."

"My husband occasionally talks in his sleep and will also laugh like a little girl in his sleep. It absolutely cracks me up and creeps me out at the same time."

"I don’t know how weird this is, but my boyfriend constantly talks to himself. He also gives voices to our pets- 2 cats and a dog. Each pet has a distinct voice and accent. Some of them have catchphrases."

"Sometimes when he’s getting ready for work in the morning, I’ll hear him having conversations with the pets and himself in all the various voices. It’s hilarious and adorable. Sometimes I catch myself doing it now, too."

"She mostly closes doors, but only mostly. Not fully ajar, not fully closed. I have never seen this wonderful woman completely close a door in 13+ years.Luckily, it’s just inside doors."

"He gets very concerned about his socks to the point he will count them when he's folding laundry and get irritated when he can't find all of them. Then he accused me of doing something with them. Like I would do anything with his stupid socks."

"He needs the GPS even though he knows the area and the way. If the GPS goes out, he’ll oddly panic."

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"Anything that could go or fit on top of anything else is called a "hat." There are no lids, there are no covers, there are no toppers or caps. We have a top-loader freezer. She wouldn't say 'close the lid.' She'd say 'put the freezer hat back on.' Bottle caps? No. Bottle hats. Does the pot of boiling water have a lid? Nope. It has a hat. Wine bottle stopper? Try again. That's a hat. Trash bin cover? Trash bin hat*. There are hats and only hats. Edit to add that she's a native English speaker, but her family is Lithuanian. I think it's something she picked up from her dad as a kid and it just became a habit. She is aware that it's goofy."

"All sauces are gravy. What kind of salad gravy do you want?"

"He does this loud chicken noise (like a baw-kak!) just randomly and it could be anywhere. It’s never been inappropriate, but it’s always surprising and I laugh every freaking time."

"To my wife, everything is a 'counter.' Tables, dressers, nightstands, basically any flat surface that is not the floor is the counter."

"He randomly licks me. We will be cuddling and he just will lick my shoulder real quickly. I don’t get it."

"My youngest had trouble learning to eat solids and my wife spent 3-5 meals a day for like 6 months mimicking eating to her. It’s now 9 years later and after every first bite of a meal she goes MMMMMMMMMM! It’s a charming relic of a stressful time in life."

"He does sock shoe sock shoe like a psycho."

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"She usually dresses normal but sometimes she goes through phases where she dresses like people from different eras. Like a 70s disco phase outfit or a 80s rock chick outfit or a 1950s dress outfit. It's one thing to do this for a day or something... she will do it for like 3-4 weeks straight, ordering clothes on amazon to make new outfits, wearing the outfits to go grocery shopping or walking the dog etc. And then she rinses and repeats every once in a while. She also will obsessively watch movies from that era when this happens. She has been doing this for 20+ years. She is known in our neighborhood for doing this."

"Bf is a biologist and absolutely cannot stop himself from interacting with any animal/insect/bird that his brain has deemed interesting. I've spotted him softly talk to bugs and bees when he thinks no one's looking. Also as long as he has deemed it safe, if we spot a snail (and he's REALLY GOOD at spotting snails it's insane) he WILL pick it up no matter the circumstances. We've spent HOURS in parks/sanctuaries in one single spot if he's spotted a cool lizard or an animal because we must make new animal friends. His parents tell me all the different insects, bugs and tiny animals he used to bring to them as a baby lmfao."

Joy

Jennifer Garner attempting to bathe her cat is 100% relatable to cat owners

It’s usually not recommended to bathe cats, but Moose had an “issue” that required intervention.

Cats generally do not appreciate humans bathing them.

One of the biggest differences between being a cat owner and a dog owner is that cats are experts at grooming themselves. While dogs require regular bathing, cats don't—in fact, it's generally recommended that you don't bathe kitties for non-medical reasons because it can dry out their skin and disrupt the cat-owner relationship.

(For real, if you didn't know this about cats, barring any health issues, they are meticulously clean and their fur actually smells good, even up close. Some cats have a mild cologne-like scent that's quite pleasing, and they do it all by themselves.)

However, occasionally something might happen that requires a human to bathe a cat. When it does, it's an adventure, as Jennifer Garner hilariously demonstrated in a video on her Instagram page for National Pet Day.


It seems that her cat, Moose, had a bit of a poo issue, which Garner doesn't elaborate much on but that required some assistance to remedy. That assistance involved a bath—or sink shower in this case—which many cats aren't too keen on. Despite the viral videos showing cats who mysteriously love the bathtub, most domesticated cats don't, and they will let you know it in the only way they know how.

For Moose, that message was sent by climbing out of the sink and onto his owner mid-scrub, creating a scenario that left Garner asking aloud, "What's to be done? What would my mom do?!?"

Watch:

The helplessness of having a cat clinging to you for dear life is real. You don't want to pull them off because they'll just dig their claws in further, and when they climb up over your shoulder, you don't have any leverage to do anything with them anyway. It's definitely not a one-person job to try to bathe a cat who doesn't want to be bathed.

According to Britannica, most domesticated cats hate water because wet fur is uncomfortable and it takes a long time to dry. There's also the totally not-backed-by-science possibility that cats simply find the prospect of being bathed offensive. After all, they spend a large chunk of their waking hours cleaning themselves—how dare we measly humans suggest they aren't doing a good enough job of it?

Along with encouraging her to get her wounds cleaned and treated well, as cat scratches can be dangerous, people weighed in on the video with some hilarious commentary.

"I'm pretty sure Moose would have killed you if you'd gotten to the conditioner," wrote one person.

"I think the conditioner would have tipped Moose over the edge," agreed another.

"That cat went straight for the carotid. Much like my toddler when I suggested she put pants on this morning," joked another.

"You are so brave! Also, this was a tad reminiscent of Buddy the Elf trying to hug that raccoon, 😂" offered another.

All in all, Moose's bath could have gone worse. There are actually some ways to make a cat bath a bit more pleasant—and safe—for everyone involved. The ASPCA recommends these five steps for bathing a cat:

1. Prep Your Cat – If you're wondering how to keep a cat calm while bathing, it can be helpful first to get your cat used to being in the sink or tub—try putting them in without water, giving them a few treats, and then lifting them out. If possible, you can do this several times in the days before you plan to give your cat a bath to help things go smoother.

2. Add Cat to Water – Put a few inches of lukewarm water in the sink or tub and place your cat gently inside. Keep your cat calm by talking soothingly and praising them for good behavior. (I know, easier said than done!)

3. Wet Your Cat Down – Wet your cat's body and tail while avoiding the face. Most cats don't like water in their face, and you'll definitely want to avoid upsetting your soaked kitty.

4. Lather and Rinse – Add the shampoo, lather, and rinse your cat thoroughly. Try not to leave any soap residue behind, which can irritate your cat's skin.

5. Clean the Face – Use the soft cloth to wipe off your cat's whiskered face carefully. You can also clean the outside of the ears with a cotton ball. Never use a Q-tip or other instrument to clean the inside of your cat's ears, which could cause injury.

Garner's poopy bath adventures with Moose is prime evidence that cat ownership is never boring. You can follow Jennifer Garner for more relatable cat mom fun on Instagram.