All of us have artwork in our lives that’s sacrosanct — books, movies, and different works by creators we love a lot we’ll hear no in poor health spoken of them, sequence and exhibits we’re impossibly subjective about. For me, a kind of beloved works is RedHanded, a real crime podcast hosted by two British girls, Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala, who met at a celebration one evening and bonded over their shared love of homicide.
If destiny exists, I can imagine it aligned the celebs to unite Hannah, an outspoken redhead and social anthropologist turned actor who in an earlier lifetime was most likely steadily described as a “wench,” and Suruthi, a superb economics graduate with a horrible behavior of blithely hitchhiking throughout Europe. To me, Hannah and Suruthi are excellent. RedHanded, through which they narrate grisly tales of homicide whereas injecting wry wit and sensible sociopolitical commentary, can be excellent; I as soon as thrust a advice for the present into the arms of a colleague and anxiously awaited her response after she’d listened to some episodes. “They’re excellent,” she instructed me, and my entire physique unclenched.
I’m not alone in feeling this fashion: RedHanded has received followers throughout the globe and garnered a big Patreon following, making it one of many top-earning podcasts on the platform and enabling Hannah and Suruthi to go away their jobs and decide to the present full time. Whereas the true crime podcast medium has been nicely and really overpopulated because the Serial phenomenon of 2014, RedHanded’s hosts began their present as longtime followers of true crime podcasting themselves and thus understood precisely what they wished to do in a different way. They started RedHanded in 2017 with the intent to border instances inside a broad sociocultural and political context — specializing in the causes, victimology, and psychology of crime slightly than simply the criminals. Their strategy match proper right into a shifting narrative development that many true crime podcasts have spearheaded and one which many documentary filmmakers have embraced lately, particularly as a part of the Me Too motion — however it’s nonetheless a rarity.
RedHanded’s format — two beginner hosts talk about particular homicide instances in weekly standalone episodes which might be about an hour lengthy — is without doubt one of the most typical true crime podcast codecs. (For instance, My Favourite Homicide, Era Why, or True Crime Storage.) Lengthy-form true crime podcasts that discover a selected case or concern over a number of episodes are typically glossier; they’re often fronted by journalists working with a media outlet or podcast community, they usually usually include plenty of polish and status. (Suppose: Within the Darkish, Dr. Demise, or The Factor About Pam.)
Hannah and Suruthi aren’t journalists, they usually intentionally downplay any trace of poshness; they recorded their first episode in a violin cabinet and wield that tidbit like conflict veterans displaying delight over their battle scars. However they strategy the analysis and presentation of their present with a journalistic sensibility and provides every case the context and evaluation that usually comes from deeper-dive podcasts.
Nonetheless, the principle draw of RedHanded is arguably Hannah and Suruthi themselves. By this level, greater than 180 episodes in, they really feel like previous pals — folks whose habits, flaws, relationship mishaps, and misadventures I do know nicely. Although the true crime podcasting house isn’t a confessional house, these girls have made it one, steadily interpolating tidbits about their very own lives and experiences in a approach that feels very inviting and doubtless explains why they’ve so many devoted listeners — or at the least why I really like them a lot.
It’s additionally why, after I was just lately provided the prospect to interview them, I felt like a fangirl first and a critic and interviewer second. After spending a lot time listening to them and build up a one-sided rapport, it was odd to understand I hadn’t actually already quizzed them personally about their ideas on the present state of true crime media — particularly given how busy the style appears recently, with no signal of slowing down. Throughout our dialog, they spoke about their distinctive partnership, the true crime podcasting group, and traits within the style — and why, regardless of their hundreds of established followers, they don’t actually care when you like them or not.
One of many issues that I feel makes RedHanded distinctive is that you simply two just about met by means of the podcast — you had been drunk, you met at a celebration, and also you determined to begin this podcast with out actually understanding one another. Is that just about it?
Hannah Maguire: No, that’s precisely it.
And it was really a Thanksgiving get together, which we don’t have right here [in the UK]. I had an American flatmate and he was a complete arsehole. He had an enormous household that came visiting him, they usually all wished to remain on this tiny flat that we had, and there was simply, they had been in all places. So like, I needed to climb over air beds to get into my room, I needed to make dinner for everybody after I didn’t even need to come dwelling. Anyway, a pal who was [also] staying with us went to high school with Suruthi, and he was like, “Hello, can my pal Suruthi come? She’s simply come again from touring.” I used to be like, fantastic. What’s another individual?
Suruthi confirmed up — and we all the time say that, like, it’s what you need to occur while you meet the love of your life. We simply received on so nicely and we simply wished to speak about the identical stuff and do the identical stuff on a regular basis. After which, yeah, we simply drank loads and found out that, firstly, listening to podcasts — not way back within the UK, not that many individuals had been doing it — so to search out somebody who was listening to the particular homicide podcast I used to be listening to felt like a seminal second.
Was there a selected podcast that you simply bonded over?
Maguire: I feel it was Final Podcast on the Left — and true crime basically. After which we simply began theory-swapping about JonBenét Ramsey, proper in entrance of precise youngsters.
You described the rom-com serendipity of all of it, however was there a second while you went, “Oh, my god, I’ll have met the proper podcasting associate”?
Suruthi Bala: It occurred actually fairly shortly as a result of I left the get together at Hannah’s — and granted we had been fairly drunk, however you recognize, we had been like, “Let’s change into greatest pals, let’s begin this true crime podcast, let’s do all of this.” And the subsequent day I really keep in mind texting two of my shut pals on the time being like, “I met somebody” they usually had been like, “Oh, my god, lastly, you met any individual!” And I used to be like, “Oh, no, it’s not a man. It’s a lady. And we’re going to begin a real crime podcast.”
I feel Hannah and I are each fairly large personalities. You simply know while you meet any individual else, if the chemistry is correct, when you take to each other, and clearly we didn’t know after we began this whether or not we weren’t gonna massively conflict additional down the road, however fortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Proper place, proper time, pure luck.
I feel one thing that makes RedHanded a bit totally different from different true crime podcasts is that listeners get to see you changing into pals as you go alongside — doing the entire new pals factor the place you uncover information about one another.
Maguire: I feel I’m actually very grateful that we didn’t know one another earlier than, since you all the time hear these horror tales of pals who go into enterprise collectively, and also you’ve received all of this emotional baggage, and we didn’t have any of that after we began it. And we’re very fortunate that we’ve change into such nice pals, and we’ve made this superb factor collectively and we traveled the world and achieved all of that stuff. However it’s all the time been this relationship the place we had been studying on a regular basis. So I feel we’ve achieved a fairly okay job of creating that relationship work in a friendship sense and likewise in a enterprise sense.
Bala: We had nothing to lose, and that was a superb factor.
So how did you really get RedHanded off the bottom? Had both of you really labored on one thing like this earlier than?
Bala: I don’t suppose we really taught ourselves something. We had been assembly up. We had been chatting, we had been speaking extra about our curiosity in true crime slightly than virtually in regards to the podcast. After which I feel someday it was form of like, “We preserve speaking about this, we must always simply do it.” And we kind of simply began it with no expertise in broadcasting, no understanding of easy methods to do modifying or something, principally — neither of us had been from this house.
So we really weren’t ready, and we didn’t have any kind of plan of who was going to do what. It has apparently simply occurred fairly organically since we began. I don’t suppose we’ve ever actually sat down. We simply kind of did it in a really environment friendly approach. I don’t know the way it occurred.
I feel that’s what number of true crime podcasts begin out. I have a tendency to love true crime podcasts that really feel like they had been made by two folks in a storage — there are a bunch that each one have this very homegrown aesthetic. I don’t know if that’s your expertise, however it feels such as you’re each a part of that and likewise not a part of that.
Maguire: I feel a giant factor for us is that we’re British. A overwhelming majority of the true crime podcasts which might be on the market are American. So we’re all the time going to be outsiders in that kind of house, I feel.
You’ve mentioned that you simply don’t actually get an opportunity to observe a number of true crime, however you’re clearly conscious of true crime traits, like the most recent documentaries and essentially the most controversial instances.
Bala: I really nonetheless actually get pleasure from watching true crime — documentaries and drama, I’ll watch all of it. Hannah is a lot better at compartmentalizing herself, which is an effective factor, to step away. The factor that we’ve tried to do — I don’t know if it was even a acutely aware choice, I feel we simply got here into true crime podcasting on the proper time. We occurred to have the best mind-set about issues [so] that we match into the present development [when we started RedHanded in 2017] — the course you [still] see true crime narratives transferring in, which is way more victim-centric, which is way more analytical. A lot much less the old-school, outdated hacky bizarre [themes] and preconceptions they used to have prior to now.
And, you recognize, I feel we’re simply additionally very fortunate, very fortunate. It is a bizarre strategy to put it, however each of us being girls as nicely in true crime, we mechanically have a unique approach of issues. Each of us love Final Podcast on the Left, and that is no shade on them, however they’re three guys. And we used to hearken to it and suppose, “That was so nicely achieved. It’s so humorous. It’s so nicely researched — however there’s one thing else that we may convey to the desk.”
We take the analysis actually severely. We by no means tried to be a comedy podcast, and we actually wouldn’t declare to be. We wish you to get to know us, personality-wise. However the narratives and the route that we have now taken, which is way more victim-centric, way more analytical, is what I feel you’re beginning to see. And I feel really one of many traits that’s attention-grabbing is [something I noticed when] I watched [the new Netflix series] Evening Stalker.
Oh, I’m writing about that sequence proper now, really.
Bala: Oh, yeah. I really thought it was actually attention-grabbing. And I’d have an interest to see what you consider this, however I watched it and I believed, “I see precisely what they’ve tried to do right here, precisely what they’ve gone for.” As a result of I felt like they actually tried to observe the present development in the intervening time with true crime. It’s very victim-centric. It’s very survivor and survivor’s family- or sufferer’s family-centric. It’s very police and investigation-centric. And I really feel like they purposely made the choice to disregard him.
Precisely. That’s very clear.
Bala: It’s so apparent, isn’t it? However I watched it with my mum and my brother, and each of them had been like, “What the hell is that this?! I wished to find out about Richard Ramirez — I wished to find out about who he was.” And I had simply mentioned, “Oh, he’s horrible. His crimes are horrible. However his childhood was actually tousled.” It’s actually — I used to be totally anticipating Evening Stalker to speak about all these issues. They usually didn’t discuss his childhood in any respect.
That is the fantastic line that we have now to tread within the new period of true crime, which isn’t to glamorize, to not focus solely on the killer. And to herald the narratives of the victims and the folks and the group that caught these [criminals], particularly within the Richard Ramirez case. And I completely get that.
However on the identical time, you’ll be able to’t simply determine to not discuss him in any respect, as a result of that’s what folks need. And that’s additionally attention-grabbing. So I feel we actually tried to not do that, which is simply say, “Oh, we’re doing this podcast for the victims.” As a result of, to be trustworthy, that’s not why we’re doing it; we’re doing it as a result of we need to inform these tales and we would like it to be inventive and fascinating and attention-grabbing. And we would like folks to study issues and we do need folks to alter their views on issues, like [with] our Black Lives Matter sequence. However like, don’t faux that it’s simply because of this [of centering the victims], it’s additionally as a result of there’s a curiosity across the complete matter, and you may’t simply fully erase Richard Ramirez.
And in addition, when you erase the killer fully from the narrative, then you definitely additionally erase any probability of getting empathy for him and folks like him.
Bala: Or understanding why this occurred and easy methods to cease it [from] taking place once more or something like that. Evening Stalker was like, “Nope, he doesn’t exist.”
That is one thing that has come up time and again within the final 12 months, however I haven’t actually seen the true crime group grapple very deeply with the implications of what it means to be true crime followers who’re additionally attempting to tread this very delicate line between glorifying the police and criticizing the police when mandatory. And I ponder the way you strategy that. Is it simply contextual?
Maguire: We usually do all the things on a case-by-case foundation, however we’ve been doing this for thus lengthy now that we might be mendacity if [we said] there weren’t themes and we’ve received higher at recognizing them. There are exhibits that may by no means say a nasty phrase in regards to the police. However I feel it’s essential to not be afraid to criticize the police. In the event that they’ve achieved one thing that’s fucked up, then you definitely simply have to take a look at what the story is and name out unhealthy policing while you see it. However then even be like, “Truly, after they discovered that one man’s license plate out of 1,700 vans, that was sick.” Stability it.
Do you are feeling like your viewers is the everyday true crime viewers by way of what it expects out of your remedy of those points?
Bala: I feel that [with] any kind of present like this, you appeal to no matter message or model that you simply’ve put on the market. And so Hannah and I’ve attracted a really progressive, very liberal, very outspoken, primarily feminine viewers who’re of comparable age [young millennials] to us. It’s very reflective of who we’re. They usually’re additionally not backwards in coming ahead about telling you while you’ve received one thing fallacious or after they disagree.
I feel we prefer to problem our viewers’s perceptions as nicely. We’re not all the time simply going to inform them what they need to hear, and we’ve tried to choose instances that problem folks’s narratives or problem folks’s methods of considering. For instance, after we did the Samuel Petty case, which was the one in regards to the Charlie Hebdo killings, after which the trainer who received beheaded, we all know that lots of people possibly didn’t need us to say a number of the issues that we thought in there, as a result of it was a bit delicate. However I feel we’re fortunate that we have now a really deep-thinking viewers who’re reflective.
Do you suppose that that kind of viewers can coexist with a unique kind of true crime viewers? I’m simply eager about the ideological divide between conservatives and progressives, which you’re each very conscious of, and questioning how that impacts the true crime group in your opinion.
Maguire: Crime is inherently political, so I really feel prefer it’s inconceivable to take out a political narrative from crime tales. So there are all the time going to be individuals who disagree. Usually, persons are good to one another about it inside our personal social media spheres, however generally they aren’t, and there’s not heaps we are able to do about that. However we do more and more stay in a time the place folks’s opinions appear to outweigh information in numerous boards. And I don’t suppose true crime is ever going to flee that.
Bala: True crime is so political, and it is without doubt one of the causes Hannah and I’ve each been drawn to true crime, and the rationale most individuals possibly are — as a result of it’s like an ideal mirror to be held as much as a society — like, the kind of crime that’s taking place there, the felony justice system, the way in which through which we discuss crime, all the things. So I feel it’s simply inherently a kind of issues that’s splintered, sadly, and extremely fragmented in the way in which that individuals need to eat true crime, similar to their information consumption.
There are true crime podcasts on the market which might be extra conservative, and I feel some persons are drawn to these. There’s us, and possibly the way in which we might strategy the identical story is extremely totally different. I feel we more and more stay in a time the place folks need to hear what they like. They need to hear what they already suppose. And so folks simply self-select and it’ll splinter.
We’re not attempting to unite folks both. We hope that people who find themselves on the other political spectrum would hearken to our present with an open thoughts and take one thing away from it.
However we’re okay if it’s not, as a result of we simply need to say what we imagine. And if it’s not divisive — if we’re not saying one thing — then what’s the purpose in doing it?
RedHanded releases new episodes every Thursday on all main podcasting platforms.