If you haven’t seen Netflix’s “Mindhunter” yet, do yourself a favor: watch it. Between classes, doing laundry, on the treadmill, whatever. It’s heavily dialogue-driven and, while that may be a turn off for some, David Fincher (Se7ven, Zodiac, Fight Club, The Social Network, etc.) serves as an executive producer and director for the show. If that alone is enough to sell you on the series, I commend your taste in film. If not, consider this–Mindhunter is more than a case study of the killers that occupy its episodes. In a lot of ways, it’s a case study about the viewer. Fincher–as he is prone to do–deftly turns the lens on his audience and asks us to engage in as much self-analysis as we engage in analyses of the show’s characters. Don’t be surprised if you come away from first season both intrigued and perturbed. You may learn more about yourself than you expect.
Why, though, is Mindhunter so addicting?
In his own way, Mindhunter is Fincher’s way of telling us not to be ashamed of our shadow-selves. That it’s okay to confront “the thing[s] a person has no wish to be” that reside in our psyche. (Jung, 1963) Fincher has done this before and it’s no less effective now. People want to accepted. We crave the affirmation that our quirks and perversions don’t make us social pariahs. Mindhunter addresses the concept of shadow-self and asks the audience to turn the lense on themselves as they watch. In a way, Fincher asks of us what Holden Ford asks of his colleagues in the FBI: “Try understanding [them] instead of trying to dominate [them]. Look for common ground. Find commonalities.” In doing so, we develop self-perceptions that we otherwise may not have realized. Mindhunter is addictive because we aren’t merely learning about the psychologies of serial murderers, but we’re also learning about our own. It’s liberating to discover these things about ourselves and learn that we won’t be judged for it. Mindhunter is comforting because, in a bizarre way, its acknowledgement of the shadow-self provides us a safe haven for our own introspection. Once we perceive our shadow-selves, Jung postulates that only then can we be “whole”. (1963) Over his career, Fincher has perfected the formula for this euphoric blend of self-realization and shadow-self indulgence. We love Mindhunter because it’s the latest addition to his canon of sadistic empathy. We feverishly return to Mindhunter because it acts as an outlet for our shadow-self impulses; it confirms that these repressed emotions are not cause for alarm, guilt or alienation.
After all, it’s nice to know we’re not the only one.