If you’re anything like me, you’re fascinated by true crime stories. There are certainly plenty of television shows, podcasts, and documentaries within the genre. I watch a lot of true crime shows and listen to a whole plethora of true crime podcasts. So I decided to check out Exhumed, Oxygen’s newest true crime series, to see if it added anything new to the genre. I don’t know if the show’s approach is terribly groundbreaking. However, it might be worth checking out for those interested in true crime, nevertheless.
What’s It About?
The series is about exactly what you would expect. Each case focuses on the manner in which the exhumation of a victim’s body helped solve a murder. The premiere highlights Diana Kelley’s story. Investigators linked her death with another suspected murder in her small town and hoped an exhumation of her body would link the two crimes and put a killer behind bars.
In terms of format, there’s not a lot going on under the hood that will be terribly different than the vast array of (successful) true crime shows already on the market. However, with its focus on evidence collected after exhumation of a body, the premise of this show might be just enough to attract true crime fans.
Victim or Killer?
True crime narration tends to fall into one of two categories. There are the shows that focus primarily on the victim. These shows memorialize their lives as much as (if not more than) their deaths. They understand that it is the victim who is worth remembering, more than the perpetrator. Then there are shows that do the opposite: almost glorifying the murderer’s deeds under a guise of “demystifying” them.
In the first episode, Exhumed rather encouragingly seems to veer more towards the former than the latter category. Of course, in going through the investigative process, the series shines some light on the perpetrator, their relationship to the victim, their attempts (if any) to establish an alibi, and their eventual downfall. However, the victim isn’t lost in the telling of their own stories. Interviews with their friends and families help personalize the people at the heart of the crime. The victim isn’t just the subject of a crime scene photo; they had siblings and spouses and friends and co-workers. Their lives meant more than the manner of their deaths.
Since the premise of the series revolves around the manner in which the cases were solved – rather than the relationship between murderer and victim or location of the crime – the show is a bit different than some of Oxygen’s other fare, such as Killer Siblings or Lovers’ Lane Murders. The crimes highlighted within the series may be a combination of modern and historical. Investigators may exhume bodies after months, years, or even decades. Also, while exhumation will assist in the solving of each murder, this isn’t the primary focus of the episodes. (At least, it isn’t in the series premiere.) Instead, the series takes the viewer through all phases of the inquiry – from discovery of the body, initial investigation, cold case status, and eventual exhumation and resolution, including sentencing of the accused. At times, this could make the findings of the exhumation more of a footnote than a focal point.
Is It Worth Watching?
Fan of true crime shows have probably heard at least a few of the featured stories in this series. That said, they’re probably worth a rewatch. The show utilizes interviews and crime scene photos to tell the stories of the victims. It also seems to attempt to focus more on the victim than the perpetrator, at least. This is sadly not always the case in true crime shows. Since the show utilizes (blurred out) crime scene photos, some episodes may be a bit too graphic for some viewers. There’s also a fine line between using true crime photos as an educational tool and sensationalizing the details of the murder.
With such a narrow premise, it’s questionable how long this series can last. How many exhumations have successfully been performed over time? Also, it’s hard to say if the series will continue to put respect toward the victim ahead of sensationalizing the murderer. It’s also unknown whether equal respect will be paid to victims of all backgrounds, and whether this series – like so many others – will focus almost exclusively on White victims and White voices. Hopefully, this won’t be the case, but only time will tell.
Exhumed airs Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.