*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Bodkin.*


In an age where true crime seems as big and booming a genre as ever, I'm always here for a thoughtful exploration around the ethics of its subjects and how some cases continue to garner so much public interest.

It's fascinating that in this day and age, where you'd think pretty much every nasty, spine-tingling case has surely been raked over for podcasts, documentaries and TV miniseries, there's still so much more out there waiting to be uncovered – and true crime, as a subject of entertainment, probably won't ever wain.

So that's why I had high hopes of Bodkin going into its first episode. A Netflix series following a group of people working on a podcast all about the mysteries within a small Irish town? Sign me up. But rather quickly on in the series, the disappointment was palpable in the slow-moving, almost tiring way things were unfolding.

The series follows journalist Dove (Siobhán Cullen), podcast host Gilbert (Will Forte) and producer Emmy (Robyn Cara), who are sent to Bodkin to look into a set of mysterious disappearances that happened 25 years prior. Of course when they arrive, that's when further evidence, a pretty damning car boot and some illegal eel trading all get discovered.

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It's a wild ride of a series, not least because of all the intersecting plot points in the overall story, but it's also one we've seen before.

Do I really need to tap the mic and get your attention or have you already cottoned on to the comparison I'm about to make? Say it with me now, people: Only Murders in the Building.

Seán Óg Cairns as Garda Eoin, Kerri McLean as Maeve, Siobhán Cullen as Dove, Robyn Cara as Emmy Sizergh, Will Forte as Gilbert Power all standing in front of a car looking horrified at what lies inside the boot.
Seán Óg Cairns as Garda Eoin, Kerri McLean as Maeve, Siobhán Cullen as Dove, Robyn Cara as Emmy Sizergh, Will Forte as Gilbert Power in Bodkin. Enda Bowe/Netflix

Of course, I know the way the TV industry works and I know that ideas can be in the pipeline for years, not being made until a sizeable amount of time has passed and people have already consumed similar series. It's an unfortunate circumstance of the industry, I get it and who came up with the idea first is not the idea I'm trying to pose here. But I can't help but pine for the easy-going and binge-watch nature of Only Murders in the Building after watching Bodkin.

Bodkin is a hoot, it's downright witty in parts and has an Irish charm about it that, of course, Only Murders does not have.

But both series kind of set out to do the same thing: Three people that you'd never think to put together are forced to work together to investigate a mystery, they end up growing quite close in the process and getting to the bottom of the case. Chuck in other random red herring suspects, a few long-held secrets and a heavy dose of satire and it's easy to see how the pair of shows can be compared, right?

As a consumer of true crime myself, I was expecting Bodkin to be an almost behind-the-scenes satire into how well known podcasts like Serial are imagined to have been made, poking fun and posing questions about the morals behind their work. It does that in places, sure.

We have Gilbert having a pretty major reflection about his podcasting career in the finale and we get some thoughtful narration about stories versus truth.

Throughout the series, Gilbert has no qualms in going to murky lengths to get what he wants out of the locals, recording conversations regardless of vowing he wouldn't and revealing secrets that he promised to keep to himself. We're supposed to see his dictaphone moment at the end as a redemption of sorts but really, if he were to go ahead with the Bodkin podcast, he'd likely face some serious libel and defamation problems.

Martin Short, Selena Gomez and Steve Martin star in Only Murders in the Building season 3 looking shocked
Martin Short, Selena Gomez and Steve Martin star in Only Murders in the Building season 3. Disney

Unlike Only Murders, Bodkin doesn't frame the podcast as a success. It's never released, it doesn't achieve chart-topping success and celebrity status for Gilbert like it does for Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short) and Mabel (Selena Gomez). More so, Bodkin shows what ethical barriers can present themselves before the glossy production and theme tune are added in, as opposed to regretting it after it's released to the public.

The second season of Only Murders in particular really offers up a lens to the true crime podcast industry, comedically posing the question of how far one person (Adina Verson's Becky/Poppy in that case) will go in order to achieve a scoop and start up a successful podcast. What better way to achieve that then to murder someone and be the person investigating their murder for a future podcast of your own?

The terrible crime was obviously found out and Becky/Poppy was sent away but throughout its three season run so far, it's continuously poked at the podcast industry and jibed about the ridiculous (and deadly) lengths some can go to in order to be top of the audio charts.

Only Murders has followed the unlikely trio as they've investigated grisly murders, found themselves framed in the process and become the best of friends. Could that be the vibe that Bodkin was going for? It's hard to tell, but what is decidedly different between the two is the humour and intrinsic Irish charm that Bodkin possesses.

It's an unavoidable part of what makes the Netflix series so watchable, but on the flip side, the series doesn't mind having a leading group of characters that are actually all deeply unlikeable in their own ways. Their collective lack of redeeming qualities can often make the seven-parter feel like a bit of a slog to get through and, annoyingly so, the finale doesn't feel as though it sticks any kind of landing.

But the overarching interrogation into the way we consume real-life stories is something that lingers (at least for a little bit) after watching Bodkin and while I doubt it'll make any waves in causing people to question the kind of content they're consuming, it has at least tried.

Bodkin is now available to stream on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.


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