'My Favorite Murder' Podcast Provides Listeners With Comforting Convos About Anxiety, Therapy & True Crime

By Victoria Kim 02/23/17

Listeners say the explicit nature of the gory podcast makes it easier to explore other difficult subjects in their lives.

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, the hosts of My Favorite Murder Photo via YouTube

If you’ve listened to My Favorite Murder, a true crime podcast that re-tells the gory details of horrid homicides with a casual and comedic bent, then you’re already familiar with the candid tone of hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

The podcast—a mash-up of gruesome crime stories and frank discussions of the hosts’ own mental health issues, substance use and anxiety—is “a lot like exposure therapy,” Hardstark recently told Andrea Marks of The Atlantic, “where you have to confront your fear to prove that it can’t actually hurt you.”

Listeners have reported benefiting from hearing Kilgariff and Hardstark talk about these difficult issues. “They’re terrified of those things just like the rest of us! Somehow diving into the subject helps diffuse the pain of it,” a listener told The Huffington Post last year. “It might be a weird way to desensitize ourselves from a nasty world, but it helps!”

Another listener, Windy Maitreme, told The Atlantic's Marks that the hosts’ candid conversation about mental health—including their own anxiety, insecurities, and experiences in therapy—inspired her to make her first therapy appointment. “It was just amazing to me to see how many people not only accepted these two women and their mental health issues, but they loved them and supported them.”

Marks says the podcast has begot a virtual support group of (mainly female) listeners who find comfort in the genuine chemistry of Kilgariff, a comedy writer, and Hardstark, a Cooking Channel personality, interwoven in tales of history’s grisliest killings. 

The exposure component of My Favorite Murder may seem counterintuitive, but it’s why Hardstark is specifically fascinated by murder—because she’s afraid of being killed herself. Listeners say the podcast and its gory content have the same therapeutic effect. Its explicit nature opens the door to one taboo subject, murder, and makes it easier to explore other difficult subjects, Marks notes.

Maitreme struggles with anxiety and told Marks that being from a small town in Louisiana, she was taught that showing emotion was a sign of weakness. “I couldn’t believe how much [Kilgariff and Hardstark] talked about mental health issues and how they were very open about seeking therapy,” she said.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr