Name: A Very Fatal Murder
Presented By: David Pescall (voiced by David Sidorov)
Genre: Satire, The Onion, Crime
No. Of Episodes: 7
Episode Length (Average): Around 10 minutes
The Onion’s A Very Fatal Murder is a satirical podcast poking fun at the True Crime genre of podcasts that has proven extremely popular recently, such as Serial and S-Town created by This American Life.
The podcast follows a fictional podcast host, David Pescall (voiced by David Sidorov) as he visits the small Nebraska town of Bluff Springs, to investigate the murder of prom queen Hayley Price.
Straight away the podcast hits you with hilarious commentary, as Pescall wonders aloud “what makes a murder…perfect?” and he explains how he has created a program called ETHL (the Extremely Timely Homicide Locator) to track down and compare murders in order to find one for an award-winning podcast or as he puts it himself to find the “the most interesting, violent, culturally relevant murder cases in America”.
He goes further to say that they had to whittle down cases to choose one as the main story – for instance ETHL found “the case of the girl who had been raped and killed on the night of her 16th birthday, but we thought the situation didn’t say enough about the decline of the middle class, so we changed the algorithm”. Then when it comes across Hayley Price a “typical 17-year-old with big dreams and clear skin when she was killed, she was a high achiever, a debate champion, a prom queen, a doting girlfriend — but Hayley also excelled at being murdered.”
As Pascall further explains, the murder of Hayley Price was perfect for his podcast as it was: “Gruesome, unsolved and comments on the ugly underbelly of the American dream, the decline of manufacturing, modern beauty standards, the gig economy, factory farming, deforestation, saturated fats, the fragility of love, the golden era of television, co2 emissions — and most importantly, no one had done a podcast about it yet.”
These lines all come about in the first few minutes of the first episode and there are plenty of laugh out loud lines throughout the series. For instance, Pascall talks about how everyone suspects the boyfriend in these cases, in this cases Hayley’s boyfriend was called Brian, but he doesn’t simply because “he’s a great guy”.
In the first episode there is also the absurd and toe-curling interview with Hayley’s parents. When the mother starts crying and asks for a tissue box, Pescall refuses saying “your sniffles are coming through really well on the mic” and makes them read an advert instead for a box subscription company. It is brilliantly bizarre and hilarious.
In the future episodes, there is also a very funny two part episode where the host says that if listeners aren’t ready “to have their breath taken away by this stunning piece of narrative journalism” then move onto part 2.
The narrative does actually have a couple of twists within it as well, including who actually murdered Hayley and why, or that Pescall is advised to deliver a “bombshell” at the end of the fourth episode to keep listeners engaged which he does and I won’t reveal either here.
The podcast episodes are all between 5-15 minutes long so it can be listened to in short punches or even in one go with the whole series taking about an hour or so to listen to.
For any fans of true crime podcasts, I would definitely recommend giving this one a listen as the humour within it is done with love and as an ode to the genre. I would also recommend giving it a listen if you just like to listen to something that’s darkly funny.