Ever since Silence of the Lambs was released and became a classic, and Hannibal premiered on NBC, stories about the exploration of the criminal mind have been one of the hottest story points in the movie/television industry. It begs the question – what makes a psychopath a psychopath? And the portrayal of the answer to that question either on the big screen or small screen is fascinating enough for studios and TV Networks to commit millions of dollars to it. This has led to several shows exploring the minds of killers and psychopaths and Mindhunter is one of such shows.
Netflix, the big streaming service on course to be the producer of everything worth watching decided to tap into this market in 2016 when it announced its production of Mindhunter. The show started filming in May 2016. Perhaps due to the pedigree of the talents attached to the project or the service’s perchance for making big bets, the show was renewed for a second season before it premiered on the channel. One of the talents attached to the show, David Fincher is one of Hollywood’s best directors. The bet paid off and the show was a critical success when it was released in 2017. It was named one of the best shows in that year by several major media publications.
Mindhunter – Synopsis
Mindhunter is a crime drama story that explores the psyche of serial killers in American history through the eyes of two Federal Bureau Investigation agents. The show’s premise and core story are inspired by a similarly named book, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. The book was written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker in 1995.
The story follows agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany respectively and Wendy Carr, a psychologist (played by Anna Torv) who they pick up along the way in their search to understand the mind of imprisoned serial killers in order to help them track and solve current cases of serial crime. The show takes a deep dive into the graphic nature of the crimes and the impact on the lives on the team members of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit as they go deeper into the rabbit hole that is the mind of a psychopath.
The show’s characters are mostly based on the real-life versions of the people in the story. The two leads, Holden Ford and Jonathan Groff are representations of the writers of the book the show is based on, John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The psychologist Wendy Carr is based on a Boston College Professor who worked with FBI agents and got grants to meet serial murderers, rapists to conduct research on them.
The leading cast of Mindhunter is a small one with B-list actors and actresses. Its 10 season episode helps the show tell a compact story that helped it become one of the best first seasons of a television show. The show stars just five main characters – Holden Ford, Bill Tench, Debbie Mitford, Shepard, and Wendy Carr. Alongside the main character, the show features a slew of recurring characters. Here is a more in-depth look at the cast and their respective characters.
Before he started travelling across America, trying to understand the mind of serial killers as Holden Ford in Mindhunter, Jonathan had made a name for himself in the theatre. He is a prominent actor who had gotten two Tony nominations for his performances in Spring Awakening and global theatre sensation, Hamilton. He is also a Grammy winner as a part of the cast recording for the ‘Hamilton Theater album’. The Pennsylvanian-born actor has also featured in other projects such as Walt Disney’s Frozen as Kristoff and played Jesse St. James in the hit show, Glee.
Jonathan Groff was signed on as one of the two leads on Mindhunter in 2017. He once battled melanoma skin cancer in his early 20s and is out of the closet as a gay man. He’s set to reprise his role as Holden Ford in the hit show for the coming second season.
Holt McCallany has played a lot of law enforcement characters over the course of his 30-year acting career. A career that started with him literally running away from his home at the age of 14 has seen him feature in over 20 movies including iconic movies like Fight Club and Tyson. Holt was cast to play Bill Tench, the second half of two lower-level FBI agents who have alternative ideas on the investigative model of serial crime on the show. Holt, in a recent interview, credits his late father for the inspiration for his characterization of Bill Tench. Holt’s portrayal of the character has been described as one of the important elements in the success of the show.
After getting a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University, having a credit in one of the most critically successful shows in modern television is a decent thing to show for it. Hannah Gross plays Debbie Mitford, the smart girlfriend of Holden Ford, who places Holden on the path of the show’s story. Hannah Gross is a Canadian actress who also hails from an acting family. She has primarily featured in movies, with her only television work being Mindhunter and The Sinner. She’s also a stage actress who has been in three plays.
Cotter plays Shepard on the show, the unit chief placed in the supervision of the work of the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI Academy. Cotter isn’t new to television shows. Since making his TV debut in 1982, he has gone on to appear in over 20 Television shows including popular ones like Law and Order, Person of Interest and Madam Secretary. The American actor’s acting credits cuts across film and stage productions too. Outside of acting, Cotter Smith is a teacher at The New School for Drama in New York.
Anna Torv completes the main cast of Mindhunter as Doctor Wendy Carr, who lends her academic expertise to the interviews conducted by the FBI Agents, Holden Ford and Bill Tench. Anna Torv joins the team after her insights into early interviews conducted by the duo were considered very impactful. Her role in Mindhunter marks her second major role in a successful show since her lead in Fringe. Aside from television, she’s also a stage actress and has appeared in a number of feature movies. She’s an Australian actress who began her acting career professionally in 2002, although she started acting in theatre since 1986.
Recurring characters on the show are played by Stacey Roca as Bill Tench’s wife, Nancy Tench. Michael Park plays Peter Dean, an investigator from the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) who was tasked with investigating an incident that involved the unit. Cameron Britton plays Ed Kemper, an intelligent serial killer who was interviewed by the team. Though Cameron Britton isn’t a major cast on the show, his portrayal of Ed Kemper earned him an Emmy nomination in what was described as a visceral and bone-chilling portrayal of a sociopath. Sonny Valicenti plays an ADT serviceman who is foreshadowed to be the prominent serial killer, Dennis Rader.
The show was produced by Charlize Theron and David Fincher. It was written by Joe Penhall and the show’s production was in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
As mentioned earlier, the show was a critical success. It’s critical success is best described by Rotten Tomatoes’ consensus statement ‘Mindhunter distinguishes itself in a crowded genre with ambitiously cinematic visuals and a meticulous attention to character development’. On major review sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, the show is rated excellently, with Metacritic giving it a score of 79/100 and Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 96% rating. The show, along with its solid aggregate scoring, was named one of the top 10 shows of the year by major publications like Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, New York Observer and The Independent.
The show has been nominated for multiple awards, including Emmy nomination for Cameron Britton who plays Ed Kemper as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama series. Mindhunter’s first season got seven nominations across six award bodies. It, however, won just one award.
Mindhunter Season 2 -Release Date, Spoilers
Mindhunter was renewed for a second season before the release of the first season. According to showrunner, David Fincher, there are five planned seasons for the show, although it remains to be seen if Netflix will keep the show in its line-up for that long.
As for the second season, there is little information so far about the release date’ with David Fincher only insisting that the second will be released in 2018. The second season will be released with two fewer episodes than the first season.
With the show’s crime stories based on the real-life dramatization of real-life incidents, the second season is set to be focused on the Atlanta Child Murders that happened in 1979 and 1981. David Fincher has also confirmed that the second season will be adding Damon Herriman to play Charles Manson for the show’s story on the Manson Murders.
All the main cast members are expected to return for the second season.