Introduction During the mid- to late-1980s, the American television industry became increasingly dominated by so-called "reality" programming centered around sensational true-crime stories. This trend created and promoted a wide range of ratings-successful and cheap-to-produce police-procedural shows, such as America's Most Wanted and Cops, devoted exclusively to the on-air apprehension of criminals. "Human interest" journalistic programs like Inside Edition, Unsolved Mysteries, and A Current Affair routinely featured lurid "case studies" and reenactments of particular crimes. The victims of these crimes were typically depicted as virtuous middle Americans, the perpetrators as evil deviants. Television talk shows such as Geraldo similarly portrayed serial killers in uncompromisingly bipolar terms. Toward this end, a perennial favorite of the "reality TV" crime coverage was the so-called serial killer, whose multiple body counts, grisly deeds inflicted upon hapless strangers, and often lengthy trials lent themselves well t o the kind of tabloidverite now a staple of much news programming.