BuzzFeed Unsolved maintains perfect combination of humor and story telling

The cover image for the

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The cover image for the "BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime" series features co-hosts Ryan Bergara (right) and Shane Madej (left).

Scout Molder, Co Editor-in-Chief

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I’m about to write something that many people may initially disagree with, so buckle up: the infamous media outlet BuzzFeed has actually produced at least one good set of content, and that’s the series “BuzzFeed Unsolved.”

BuzzFeed is notorious for many things, including its oddly specific quizzes, bad reporting and cheesy, overplayed or overdone videos. As a teen who was raised during the YouTube era, my main exposure to BuzzFeed’s content has always been through their YouTube channels, and though I’ve always been aware of their reputation as being “lame” or “mainstream” media, I decided to give their YouTube series dubbed “BuzzFeed Unsolved” a try shortly after the release of its first few episodes in early 2016.

At first, writer, host, and narrator Ryan Bergara’s video series was produced sort as if it were mini episodes of your average true crime or unsolved mysteries show, with a new case being covered in each 15 minute or so episode. As someone who loves all things mysterious, I was all about the show from the start, regardless of the fact that in hindsight it had relatively low production quality back then. However, as it has gained popularity over its three years and now ten seasons of existence, it’s become much more than its humble beginnings as a small BuzzFeed fledgling.

Today, the show is co-hosted by Bergara and Shane Madej. “BuzzFeed Unsolved” is divided into two sub series: “True Crime” and “Supernatural.” The show alternates between several formats. “True Crime” episodes generally consist of Bergara narrating and Madej interjecting at certain moments for the men to discuss their thoughts on the case at hand.

This is where the show becomes unique from your average true crime documentary: when Bergara and Madej discuss the cases, it’s like listening to two friends talk and joke around. The two men often have conflicting opinions that contribute to the discussion; Bergara often defends the more unlikely theories about the cases, while Madej bluntly and often humorously criticizes them. Most of the time, even Bergara can’t keep himself from laughing at Madej’s pokes at some of the more ridiculous theories. Their banter is often shown typed on the screen, and the transcription of Bergara’s laughter throughout as “wheeze” has become a popular reference among the show’s fanbase.

My favorite episodes of the show have always been those of “Unsolved Supernatural.” In many of the episodes, Bergara and Madej actually go to the site of the haunting—often at night, Ghost Hunters style. It’s here where the polarization of Bergara and Madej’s beliefs becomes even clearer, and the humor attached to that conflict becomes even stronger.

Bergara, a believer in the supernatural, is fearful of ghosts and even more terrified of demons and possession. Madej, on the other hand, is an adamant nonbeliever, and makes it clear throughout each investigation (oftentimes as Bergara shakes in a corner, mind you, which just adds to the hilarity) that he is not afraid of ghosts.

Madej’s most famous poke at Bergara’s belief in ghosts has been quoted in memes across the internet.

“Hey there demons, it’s me, ya [your] boy,” Madej shouted into the darkness of a basement during a nighttime investigation in the episode “The Ghosts and Demons of Bobby Mackey’s.”

It’s moments like those where the love that I’ve developed for this show lies. Madej and Bergara have done an excellent job throughout their time together on the series combining an in-depth narration of true crime and supernatural mysteries and joke-filled conversation. It’s clear that the two men have developed a strong relationship—albeit with an interesting dynamic—through their work together on the show. The attraction to watching their interactions is evident by the show’s large fanbase, with its channel now racking up almost 2.5 million subscribers. There’s even merchandise sold to go along with the Bergara’s “wheeze” quote and Madej’s “Hey there demons” quote mentioned above.

Overall, I think that with this show, BuzzFeed, Madej, and Bergara do a wonderful job playing to the advantage of being a YouTube series, which is that of the potential to build a strong relationship with the viewers. At this point, it seems as though many viewers of “Unsolved”, myself included, watch the show more for Bergara and Madej than we do the actual mystery being discussed (although Bergara also does a great job with the research and narration).

Recommendation wise, I think binging this series is worth the time for any mystery lover who’s tired of the same old, boring documentary format you’ll find on most TV and streaming service series. Honestly, I’m confident anyone just looking for a good laugh and an interesting story will find it in Madej’s wit and Bergara’s strong narration. No matter who you are, entertainment is always better when you feel a connection with the people behind the screen.

So yeah, maybe BuzzFeed still isn’t the greatest. I know we’re all sick of those “Tasty” cooking videos showing up on our feed, and no, no one needs to know which celebrity they’ll marry based off of their favorite colors. But, seriously, just give “BuzzFeed Unsolved” a chance. I promise, it’s totally different from what you’d typically expect from a BuzzFeed series. It’s well written, well produced, and legitimately funny and entertaining. The quality of BuzzFeed as a whole may still remain unsolved, but this series is confirmed a great watch.