CLEVELAND (WJW) – Fans affectionately call them “murder shows” and they’re killing it with viewers.

True crime programs, podcasts and docudramas are now the most watched documentary sub-genre, according to Parrot Analytics, a media tracking company.

But why are we so drawn to such ghoulish misery? 

The experts say it’s sort of like a car accident that peaks curiosity and it’s hard to look away.

“As humans, we are fascinated with crime and what’s evil and what isn’t,” said Dr. Susan Hatters-Friedman, an author, Director of Forensic Psychiatry at University Hospitals Cleveland and professor at Case Western Reserve University.

They’re so popular that she says some shows have developed their own watch/support groups. For example, the ‘My Favorite Murder’ podcast has a group called “Murderinos.”

The shows offer a historical record while also providing an adrenaline rush but from a safe distance.

“There is a fascination trying to figure out how someone looks like us and they act like us but commit these atrocious crimes,” said Dr. Hatters-Friedman.

The Netflix dramatization series ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story‘ debuted in the top 10 on the Nielsen Ratings with 3.7 billion minutes watched in the first week alone.

Dr. Hatters-Friedman says shows about serial killers do particularly well and especially with women who, in the past, have been targeted by these murderers.

“It’s scary, it’s absolutely scary,” said Dr. Hatters-Friedman. “I do think these shows help us recognize common factors, common situations that people were in prior to getting hurt, getting killed, so people can look out for those things in their own lives.” 

However, it’s time to take a break from the shows if a person is becoming obsessed, having nightmares or feeling over-reactive to the content.