America loves true crime. Whether it’s a documentary or fictionalized, no form of entertainment is more popular right now. And looking to add her own twist to this phenomenon is journalist/talk show host Tamron Hall, who’s returning to the genre with the Court TV show Someone They Knew.
Unlike other series, there are no overdramatized voiceovers here. Using archival footage, interrogation videos and courtroom access, each episode follows a different case from the point of view of the victim’s family and friends, alongside those involved in the investigation and trial. Hall spoke to The Root about what makes this show different and what fans of the genre can expect.
“With this particular show, I found it compelling that we are focused on a specific kind of crime, which is a crime where someone they knew is involved. And I think that is fascinating for many, many reasons,” she said. “How an individual can go from an ally to an enemy, from a lover to a murderer is fascinating, and it does bring the viewer in, bring me as a journalist in, even those who investigated the crimes into that ‘What if this were me? Could this happen to me?’ And that’s why when Court TV approached me about this series, I decided it was something I was interested in doing.”
Guess we’ll all be looking at our friends and family a little differently after watching this. Of course, that’s part of the fascination with mystery and crime. Whether it’s Agatha Christie, Law & Order or Court TV, everyone thinks they’re smarter than the detectives on screen. To Hall, it’s the reason true crime remains so popular.
“I’m old enough to remember when people would go to the Crime section of the newspaper, and this is just the new version of that,” she said. “We all fancy ourselves a little bit of a detective. I also think many of us have served as jurors…and in each of these stories and cases you put yourself in one of these positions.”
As a journalist and the host of Investigation Discovery’s Deadline Crime, Hall is no stranger to telling these stories, but working with Court TV added a new element that the Emmy-winner found interesting. Each week, a different story is told from the perspective of the investigators, jurors, lawyers and victim’s family.
“This is Court TV and that’s the access they have, gavel-to-gavel coverage. They are still doing that when everyone else has gone on to other things,” she said. “They have the archives, the access and the teams to research and pull in some of the most compelling interrogation videos, which are part of our story and part of the series. You see individuals who’ve carried out these acts, and you know how it ends, but to see it detailed gavel-to-gavel or in the interrogation video, it does ignite a part of the mind that wonders why and for us that means many, many episodes of compelling TV.”
Unfortunately, the endless amount of fictional crime dramas often leads to the real stories being treated like another episode of FBI. As someone who’s experienced the aftermath of violent crime in her personal life, it was important to Hall that every victim be humanized and treated as a real person.
“We treat them as real people because they are. I lost my sister to a violent crime and for many years I didn’t talk about it, then when I did, I remember seeing a headline that said, ‘Tamron Hall’s sister murdered.’ I remember thinking, ‘She has a name, she has a story, she had children,’” Hall said. “That’s so great about the team I work with at Court TV. We go through the scripts and I say, ‘Can I flag this as a person whose family has gone through this?’ And we collaborate in that way because I don’t ever want a show that I am on to cause more pain than the family is feeling. I don’t want them to watch this episode that is their loved ones’ story and think, ‘Tamron Hall, I thought she was a credible person and this is what she’s doing.’ It is TV and it is drama, but it’s also someone’s life. That is someone’s mother, sister, father, friend that we are talking about.”
Someone They Knew with Tamron Hall airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Court TV.