Before listening to Crimetown I didn’t really know what to expect. I just saw that the show was by Gimlet and that it involved crime and I dove in. Judging by the title I expected it to be another “true crime” style podcast but was definitely wrong. While Crimetown could technically fall into the category of “true crime,” this is one of those shows that is a bit of a game changer as far as what podcasts can do. It almost has the feel of a tv show the way it is structured and the story is just stuff you can’t make up. Let’s take a look.
In the first season of Crimetown, the team looks at the city of Providence Rhode Island, where the mob played a huge role in the way things were done and follows both the mob and the former mayor Buddy Cianci. The part of their description that catches my eye is “Every season, we’ll investigate the culture of crime in a different American city.” My problem here is that the story of Providence is so great that I have no idea how they plan to follow the first season up. That being said, they did a great deal of respect to the story of Providence Rhode Island in the first season.
One of the features of Crimetown that makes it so good is all of the different characters that weave in and out of the different story arcs. Each person plays a key role and they all add another layer to the already complex story. As you slowly expand this network of characters in this story – you remember that these are all real people. Each person could be straight out of a movie and often they have larger than life personalities. Part of what makes digging into each character extra interesting is that you are dealing with the dark world of the mob. You find that some of these people regret some of the things they did, others see it as just their job they had to do, and many lie somewhere in between.
Side Note – I might go back and take notes as I re-listen to Crimetown to make an interactive character network just for fun. Definitely a fun project if it hasn’t been done.
A Storyline You Can’t Make Up
The people in Crimetown are interesting on their own, but as I said earlier they each add a layer to the complex story. Each episode has its own arc, and the entire season has another arc or two, and in between all that there are plenty more independent storylines. Without spoiling too much, Crimetown seems to have two main characters it follows, Mayor Buddy Cianci and mob boss Raymond Patriarca. As their stories are told you find out how they intertwine with each other as well as all the other characters involved. As everything weaves in and out you can really get the feel for the chaos that was going on in the mob during those times and you hear about things that are almost difficult to believe. Hit-men? Mobsters being forced to rat and going into witness protection? 20-30 Million dollars worth of gold and jewels stolen in a heist?!?! You absolutely can’t make these things up.
The Feel of a TV Show
For me, the podcast almost feels like more of a TV show the way it is set up. With each episode having its own arc that contributes to the overall story it makes you want to just move to the next episode and binge the entire season. Each episode even seems to have scenes in it. There are points in stories where they use music and sound effects to really drive the story home and keep you on the edge of your seat. It is this kind of storytelling that, in my opinion, pushes the bar of podcasting just a little bit higher.
Crimetown is definitely one of the top podcasts out there. Season one is a truly incredible telling of a crazy story that makes you want to go back and listen again. I will definitely be finishing out the second half of the season and staying tuned for season two.