The Puzzle of Docudramas — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #167


When we’ve already heard about someone’s per­son­al scan­dal in the news, do we need to also see it dra­ma­tized with A‑list actors? Your hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Lawrence Ware, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Bak­er dis­cuss Todd Haynes’ 2023 film May Decem­ber fic­tion­al­iz­ing the long-after­math of the much pub­li­cized Mary Kay Letourneau sto­ry.

The main events of May Decem­ber are fic­tion­al (based on a sto­ry by screen­writer Samy Burch along with Alex Mechanik): An actress (Natal­ie Port­man) research­ing her future role vis­its the renamed Letourneau (Julianne Moore) and her now-adult hus­band (Charles Melton), whom she seduced (molest­ed) start­ing at age 12. So is this art film fun­da­men­tal­ly unlike the oth­er recent drama­ti­za­tions that we touch on, includ­ing Joe vs. Car­oleInvent­ing AnnaDirty JohnThe ActThe Shrink Next Door, and The Thing About Pam? We also talk about Real­i­ty. as an exam­ple of films depict­ing how hor­ri­ble it is to be arrest­ed.

Note that while Aman­da Knox’s sto­ry was made into a TV movie, the pres­tige TV dra­ma ver­sion is still in process. Her pod­cast is called Labyrinths.

One of the arti­cles we reviewed about May Decem­ber is this one from Vox.

Fol­low us @law_writes@sarahlynbruck@ixisnox@MarkLinsenmayer.

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Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Lucy Lawless Joins Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #5 on True Crime

Lucy Law­less (Xena the War­rior Princess, cur­rent­ly star­ring in My Life Is Mur­der) joins Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt to think about the true crime genre, of both the doc­u­men­tary and dra­ma­tized vari­ety. What’s the appeal? Why do women in par­tic­u­lar grav­i­tate to it?

We touch on Mak­ing of a Mur­der­er, Ser­i­alThe Stair­caseAman­da Knox, Ted Bundy Con­ver­sa­tions with a Killer, I Love You Now Die, Mom­my Dead and Dear­est (dra­ma­tized as The Act), Amer­i­can Crime Sto­ry: The Peo­ple v. O.J. Simp­son, My Favorite Mur­derCase­fileCrime Talk with Scott ReischTrue Mur­der, and Amer­i­can Van­dal.

Sources for this episode:

Here’s an arti­cle about Lucy’s new show and her love of the true crime genre. Watch the trail­er.

Get more at Sub­scribe on Apple Pod­casts, Stitch­er, or Google Play. Maybe leave us a nice rat­ing or review while you’re there to help the pod­cast grow. Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is pro­duced by the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life Pod­cast Net­work. This episode includes bonus con­tent that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at

Pret­ty Much Pop is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.