What brings a long-ago crime into the zeitgeist?

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s noticed the uptick in competing true-crime projects, often for cases that went down quite some time ago. Most recently, we have the three Chippendales shows to look forward to and two dramatic adaptations of the Candy Montgomery matter*, both cases from the 1980s.

I think none of us are surprised when everyone rushes to adapt an ongoing story like the collapse of Theranos, or when studios see the success of a project like Tiger King and hustle to jump aboard. But what is it about these older cases that suddenly catches everyone’s attention at once?

This Vulture piece from 2018 is somewhat illuminating, as it suggests that everyone is scanning the same feeds for ideas. All it takes, perhaps, is one influential commentator (should I say “true-crime influencer”? is that a thing) to mention a long-ago case and the race is on. Is it that simple, or do you think that in these cases of big-name competition, there are more cultural factors at play? I know for a fact that there’s plenty of crime for everyone, so I’m legitimately curious about why actors, directors, and studios would bother with a long-stale story that someone else is already working to adapt. — EB

*OMG, I just realized something weird: both the Chippendales and Candy stories saw dramatic adaptations decades ago, with Naveen Andrews and Barbara Hershey starring, respectively…and Hershey and Andrews were also a couple for over ten years. I don’t have a thrilling kicker to this observation, just an odd fact.