The Issue With Unsolved Mysteries

I like to believe I’m someone with a healthy dose of nostalgia and by healthy, I mean even the slightest thing can set me off down a nostalgia wormhole. The X-Files is coming back you say? Well, I should look for my old VHS box sets and not watch them because who owns a VCR anymore. Oh man, this song makes me think of college. Should I buy a case of beer and see if anyone wants to play Quarters or Flip Cup? I’m sure we’ve all been there, having the Nostalgia Button tickled by virtually anything and everything at any given time. Like I said, a very healthy dose of nostalgia that often leaves me emotional/borderline choked up depending on the trigger. Kind of like listening to “Landing Party” from the LOST soundtrack and just feeling it allllllll the way in your soul. This healthy dose of nostalgia is real convenient too, especially if a trigger occurs while standing in the self-checkout line of the food store. “What’s that ma’am? No, I’m not sad just really excited to buy these White Claws is all.” 

Recently Netflix triggered the ole Nostalgia Button and no it had very little to do with watching The Floor Is Lava which just happens to be my childhood imagination in physical form. Every time I jumped on a “floating” couch cushion that was the floor I was trying to avoid. Although, as a kid, there were fewer alien mummies involved with our games. Besides the point. No, Netflix got the nostalgia going pretty good with its revival of Unsolved Mysteries. As a child of the ‘90s, I was a big fan of Unsolved Mysteries. It was captivating. It was mysterious. It sometimes implied UFOs. I spent many childhood nights with friends in a basement watching Unsolved Mysteries while the adults “talked” upstairs. This was a show that was woven into my ‘90s DNA so to speak and the fact that it was coming back to Netflix was really exciting. What was more exciting was that it pretty much showed up on Netflix overnight. It went, “hey, Unsolved Mysteries is coming to Netflix” to “hey, Unsolved Mysteries is on Netflix, like right now” in a blink of an eye. I wasn’t ready.

Before we get into the heart of this column, can we just talk about how creepy the theme for this show is? Cause Geeklings, I totally forgot. As I was watching this new season and those familiar chords hit… I was instantly filled with deep feelings of paranoia and fear. Not like afraid to go to sleep but more afraid to throw the garbage out after the sun has gone down because I don’t want to become an episode of the series. I can imagine my wife now, “Well, we had just watched an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and he went to throw the garbage out. After twenty minutes, I knew something was up. Who throw the garbage out and doesn’t bring their phone?! It just seems unnatural. I’m not even sure the garbage bag was full, but he left in a hurry. It wasn’t like him at all.” 

Here’s the thing though. While nostalgia is all-in on these new episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, my brain might not be as fully committed. There’s a slight problem with this program and by slight, I mean it’s glaringly obvious. These mysteries… they’re unsolved. There’s zero resolution to these stories. Yes, I’m aware that part of the show’s mission statement is presenting these cases to the general public in the hopes that new information will come out but as a viewer? Man, this is tough. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need answers to everything. I love when my fiction has ambiguity and asks me to figure out what comes next. That’s powerful storytelling and leads to tremendous discussions within the fandom. That’s a whole different feeling than watching an hour documentary and then not getting any closure. You literally end the episode right where you started. Not knowing a damn thing. 

The concept of the show is fantastic and it’s intriguing. I will literally sit in front of my television for an hour soaking in all the random/bizarre stories from this particular case. Woman was driving and then poof she was gone but we found her car. Dude left unexpectedly but we found his flip flop on a building. I’m so invested in this. Invested to the point where my mind is waiting to see where this road is taking us. Like any good story, you want to piece together the puzzle and try and solve it by the end. But the twist is, there is no end. Unsolved Mysteries kind of ends with “I guess we’ll never know” and it’s soul-crushing! Some of the crimes are so freakin’ obvious too. Obviously, it’s the guy who lawyered up instantly a dead body showed up and put a no talk to the police clause on all his employees. Why can’t you arrest this dude?! Come on! 

Maybe Unsolved Mysteries needs a bit of a facelift. Nothing overly radical but perhaps a sister show and a name change. We can start calling Unsolved Mysteries something like, Temporarily Unsolved Mysteries and then include a sister show that solves the episode. “Thought you weren’t going to get closure? Well, tune in to Solved Mysteries to find out how this baby wraps up.” Cool! Now Netflix will get me to watch two series. Each episode of Temporarily Unsolved Mysteries will play off like a season finale cliffhanger until Solved Mysteries comes out. And you can even wait before you release the second show. I don’t mind hanging in the wind for a little bit as long as I know there’s going to be some answers. No one watches documentaries not to get answers. Imagine if Tiger King never went into why Joe Exotic was in jail?! That’s just cruel. 

I’m a sucker for nostalgia but come on, you’ve got to give me something here. I don’t care if you heavily imply who did the crime or imply UFOs actually exist to the point where I know it’s the answer but understand you can’t legally tell me it’s the answer. I don’t know, something! I mean… of course, I’m still going to watch. I just want answers man. Is that too much to ask?! 

What do you think Geeklings? Is part of the draw to Unsolved Mysteries the fact these mysteries aren’t solved or does it drive you crazy too? Would you watch Temporarily Unsolved Mysteries and its sister show, Solved Mysteries? Sound off in the comments or throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. Let’s solve this mystery together. 

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