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A Very Fatal Murder makes for a very fantastic satire

The Onion’s always been famous for its poignant satire, and their latest podcast, A Very Fatal Murder, has quickly reached a new peak of comedy genius.

This true crime spoof podcast (secretly a fictional audio drama) follows host David Pascall, a podcaster on the hunt for the perfect true crime mystery to solve – and then make the perfect podcast.

And what is a true crime spoof without jabs and backhanded humor directed at not only the infamous Serial, but also at the mass consumption of true crime podcasts as a whole.

David and his partner ETHL, a computer created just to help him find the perfect crime, start their search for a murder to cover (one that comments not only on the gig economy, but also middle America) and the two quickly stumble across Hayley Price, a small town girl cut down (and choked, shot and drowned) in her prime.

So, David heads to Bluff Springs to find out more about Hayley. Over the course of the short episodes (less than 10 minutes each), David manages to record an advertisement read by Hayley’s own grieving mother, insult the sheriff’s department by wondering why there’s no podcaster on the force, and even continuously accuse the eccentric millionaire who runs the town.

Every line of this show is absolutely perfectly crafted. The comedy is spot-on, the jabs are relevant and introspective, and the pacing is punchy and fun.

Even the introduction VO fits the theme – a direct ripoff of Serial’s layered lines over some minor music, except in A Very Fatal Murder, those lines are as ridiculous as someone yelling about the size of the moon, to going “Wait, Hayley is dead?!” to which David responds “Oh my God, you didn’t know?”

And those who know me may be surprised to hear it, but I adore this show. I listened to it in a single sitting a few weeks prior to our review, and laughed in public enough for people nearby to give me some strange looks.

A particular favorite running joke of mine is David’s ego, where he loops every clue back to his own life: “And Hayley will never get the chance to step out from her Brooklyn apartment with her live in boyfriend.”

As if that wasn’t enough, I voluntarily went back and listened to the full thing again, just to write this. It’s that good.

We go over the full review, including spoilers and an ending twist, in our audio review below.

Aside from the comedy, the audio quality and production value is good. There’s not a ton of atmosphere or world building, but you can still imagine some of the scenes, like David across from the sofa with the grieving parents, as he’s trying to record their crying sound effects.

The story itself is a a highlight here, as well. Yes, the show has every trope-y element you’d expect from a true crime podcast: a potential, overlooked suspect, a plot twist, and a climactic ending. And even though they’re a bit overdone in the genre, A Very Fatal Murder manages to make the ride enjoyable, because of how over the top each of those elements is presented. There are a few twists that you wouldn’t expect – trust me, it’s better if I don”t spoil them for you.

And even the names of the episodes themselves are funny, like the title “What I know and what I don’t know yet.” Or how episode 5 is broken down between part one and part two, and David introduces the episode with an aside about how he’s such a good podcaster than he gave the audience a special, poignant, two-part episode.

All-in-all, the show is a quick, enjoyable and very funny experience that finds a home perfectly among the mass genre of true crime by spinning it on its head in a witty satirical package.

If you haven’t listened to this show, I highly recommend it. For fans of comedy, true crime or breathing, this show is for you.

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