The new season of the true crime parody ‘A Very Fatal Murder’ goes out of its way to remind the listener that every narrative podcast is ultimately about its host’s ego.
The difference between parody and withering critique is that of depth. It’s one thing to lampoon a genre or work by exaggerating its tropes and tics to show how ridiculous they are, but too much of what passes for “satire” these days simply stops there, sometimes out of an abundance of caution (after all, there’s nothing less funny than a failed attempt at humor), and sometimes simply out of self-satisfaction. You see this in pop culture all the time. HBO’s Silicon Valley and IFC’s Portlandia might goof on the tech industry and Portland in painstaking detail, but when the moment presents itself to really turn the screws on their targets, to point out the privilege and elitism to each of these cultures’ worldview, they always take the easy way out. And why wouldn’t they? Part of Silicon Valley’s verisimilitude has to do with a carefully cultivated whisper network of industry sources, while many of the Portlandia cast members are actual Portland residents. For those shows’ creators, it’s probably not worth it.