Netflix’s Latest Dark Comedy Takes Down True Crime Shows

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

If you’re a true crime fan willing to poke fun at the genre while enjoying a mini-series that embodies it as much as it lampoons it, consider the latest Netflix hit, Bodkin. This streaming venture has already debuted in Netflix’s top ten—and for good reason. The show treats streamers to a rollercoaster ride of authentic true crime thrills while parodying tropes of the genre all the while.

Bodkin Is An Irish Mystery

Set in a bucolic and creepy town (bearing the same name as the show) in Western Ireland, the series’ plot relates the tale of Gilbert Power, played by the hilarious Will Forte, an American true-crime podcaster who schleps to Bodkin in hopes of documenting a hit series. Power also descended from Irish stock and was eager to fashion a winning podcast while exploring his Gaelic heritage. 

Along for the ride are Emmy Scissor, played by Robyn Cara, the podcasters’ dedicated young researcher, and Dove, portrayed by Ireland’s own Siobhán Cullen, a renegade investigative reporter hungry for closure following a personal tragedy. 

Irish Day Of The Dead

Of course, like any true crime crew producing a podcast, their quest endeavors to solve a mystery, this one decades old and pertaining to the mysterious disappearance of three people at Bodkin’s Samhain festival. This festival, for those who don’t know, marks the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter; many consider it the traditional Irish equivalent of Halloween or The Day of the Dead, fit with costumes and spooky vibes.

No One Likes Podcasters

Navigating the tight-knit, tight-lipped town, Forte and friends encounter a colorful and enjoyably eclectic cast of characters: garrulous old codgers, an intimidating B&B matron, shady fishers, blustery local police—etc. Somewhat disquietingly, the seemingly quaint Irishness of the locals functions as a facade, a shield deflecting probing questions and podcaster nosiness. 

Much like old detective tales of yore, and perhaps even more than the true crime genre it pokes fun at, Bodkin takes a gradual path, patiently unfurling its narrative to revel in complex backstories and interwoven enigmas, all of which enrich character depth. 

Parodys True Crime

Part of what makes the show popular, and what explains at least some of its appeal, is its parodying of the true-crime genre. Any true crime fans streaming the show will probably come to realize the genre has long been ripe for satirizing, and in this respect, the mini-series delivers. 

The show cleverly and commendably blends dark comedy with whimsical, self-parodying elements, calling to mind another successful take on the whodunnit, Only Murders in the Building. Expect equal parts charm and eccentricity.

Shot On Location In Ireland

Jez Charf created Bodkin and split show-running duties with Alex Metcalf. Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, brought it to Netflix, and it constitutes the larger-than-life company’s first scripted series on the streaming platform. Creatively, behind the camera, producers like Tonia Davis and David Flynn helped shape the show, while directing talent comes from Nash Edgerton and Bronwen Hughes. 

The series benefits from its principal photography taking place on location in various picturesque Irish locales, including West Cork, Wicklow, and Dublin. The iconic and evocative outdoor photography lends an air of authenticity to the show, particularly given how downright creepy rural Ireland can be, at least as a true crime locale.

Debuted In The Top Ten

While debuting in the coveted Netflix top ten, Bodkin has earned some solid critical approval, sporting a 70 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Experts generally lauded the show’s marked eccentricity alongside Forte’s compelling blend of comedic and dramatic acting. Some reviewers, however, opined that the series could use a hookier, more compelling central mystery to really round out the actual true-crime side of the true-crime parody.

As mentioned above, Forte contributes greatly to the show. The actor is known for his versatile comedic talent, distinctive on-screen presence, and unique charm. Forte was a long-time staple of Saturday Night Live (SNL) before creating and starring in the highly acclaimed series The Last Man on Earth, the first project to sincerely display his ability to mix comedy with deeper, even poignant themes. 

Streaming Only On Netflix

True crime, the genre lovingly parodied in Bodkin, has undergone a significant and notorious surge in popularity in the last decade or so. The genre’s winsome blend of real-life mystery, genuine suspense, ample horror, and psychological intrigue has captivated enormous global audiences. Like so much great narrative art, true crime tales delve deeply into the darkest aspects of human nature, marinating in rich themes: justice, morality, and the complex, stark realities of a criminal investigation. 

Shows and podcasts like Making a MurdererSerialMindhunterThe Staircase, and numerous others have made true crime a household name. To enjoy an engaging parody of the genre that also doubles as another installment in the true crime canon, stream Bodkin today.