Accused: Elizabeth Andes
I first listened to Accused last year, not long after the first season was released. When I found out that the team at the Cincinnati Enquirer was making a second season, I decided to listen to the first season again before continuing on to the new case.
Similar to In the Dark, Accused is a podcast where a team has investigated one particular crime. Season 1 of Accused examines the 1978 murder of Elizabeth Andes, a 23-year-old Ohio woman who was killed in her apartment just days after graduating from university. Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Robert Young, almost immediately became the police’s prime suspect. Young was tried twice for his girlfriend’s murder, both in criminal and civil court, and was found innocent both times. The case remains open, but it seems as though local law enforcement officials are so dedicated to the idea that Robert Young is guilty, they have not conducted any substantial work on the case in a very long time.
Accused is a terrifying story about how law enforcement officials can get bogged down in pursuing only one suspect. Personally, this is something about policing that I’ve never been able to understand. I know that investigations are rarely resolved as tidily as they are in police procedural dramas, but I’ve always believed that detective work should be about keeping an open mind. In the case of the murder of Elizabeth Andes, however, it seems as though the police focused on one suspect early on and convinced themselves that they were finished. In this light, law enforcement looks far more like a game of winning and losing than it does like a game of trying to find the truth.
My only real problem with Accused is its audio quality. There are a lot of interviews with the victim’s friends and others involved in the case and I found that the poor quality of the audio in those interviews can make it difficult to understand what some of the interviewees are saying. As such, I would recommend listening to Accused on the highest audio quality you can find and with decent headphones rather than trying to listen to it in your car or in a loud environment.
As I said in one of my March Media Round-ups, I think that Netflix is knocking it out of the park with documentaries right now and Ugly Delicious is a great addition to their current library. The series is a discussion about the history and social impact of certain types of popular food such as pizza, dumplings, tacos and fried chicken. Renowned chef David Chang and his good friend, Peter Meehan (a food writer), discuss these foods with friends in the culinary world and travel to various locations to see how those foods are produced.
While I’ve never eaten at any of David Chang’s restaurants, I was familiar with him as a food personality prior to seeing Ugly Delicious. Chang was the featured chef in the first season of the excellent, Anthony Bourdain narrated, PBS documentary series The Mind of a Chef (which is also available on Netflix) and I’ve been interested in his perspective on food since watching that show. Ugly Delicious is less a documentary and more a series of conversations about food. Central to those conversations are two topics of particular interest to me: culinary authenticity and culinary politics.
Chang and his friends ask some important questions about authenticity. For example, what is required to produce an authentic Neapolitan pizza? Must it absolutely be made with Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, which will almost never be fresh if they’re exported internationally? Or can it be accomplished in Japan with local tomatoes and local mozzarella? Does authenticity come from using highly specialized ingredients from a particular location, or does authenticity come from making the highest quality product from the highest quality ingredients available nearby?
There are also some phenomenal conversations about sociopolitical aspects of food, examining issues such as the troubled association of African Americans with fried chicken and how Italian pasta is always considered better than Asian dumplings. These discussions ask a lot of questions that are nearly never asked in food-related programming. If you are a bit of a foodie or you like cooking shows, please do yourself a favour and check out Ugly Delicious. It’s awesome.