It’s No Mystery Why Mystery Files Season 2 is a Hit

With the increase of popularity in the true crime genre, there are so many different podcasts, shows, and movies that one could consume. Arguably, one of the most popular true crime series was Buzzfeed Unsolved: True Crime, starring Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej. With millions of views and eight seasons over the course of five years, it was Buzzfeed’s most popular series. In fact, it was so popular that they created a separate channel for all their videos. When it was announced that Bergara and Madej were leaving Buzzfeed to start their own entertainment company and that the show could be coming to a close, fans such as myself were devastated. Luckily for us, Bergara and Madej weren’t done with mysteries yet. In 2023, they announced BFU: True Crime’s spiritual successor, Mystery Files. Considering that season one alone has over fifteen million combined views, it’s safe to say the show was a hit. Now, a year later, the second season has premiered, and through its campy vibe and openness for topics, Mystery Files brings a fresh and much needed take on the true crime genre.

Mystery Files consists of Bergara and Madej giving PowerPoint presentations about different mysteries to each other in a basement. This setting and format creates a nice, laid-back mood that makes viewers more comfortable, as compared to their old setup of a singular table in what looks like a detective’s office. It further differs from BFU: True Crime in that it doesn’t only focus on gruesome true crime cases. Most of the episodes of the original series focused on different unsolved murders. However, Bergara and Madej decided to take their new show in a different direction. They talk about all types of mysteries, from more true crime-like cases (like D.B. Tuber), to unexplained phenomena (such as the Sky Trumpets). This allows a much more lighthearted mood to take over the show for the better. It can get rather depressing to hear of such awful things happening (I would know as I’ve seen every episode of BFU: True Crime). It’s been reported that watching true crime can negatively affect your mental health, increasing things like anxiety and depression. So, to instead hear about something like The Leatherman, an unknown man who wandered from town to town, it leaves the viewer in a much better headspace. If you enjoy the mystery aspect of the true crime genre, this is the show for you.     

Madej is flabbergasted by Bergara’s presentation.

Season two is already showing how vast the array of topics can be on the show. The first episode focuses on Bergara recounting to Madej the Circleville Letters case. While the case is a bit darker, as it involves a person sending threatening letters to people in a small neighborhood, Bergara and Madej keep the mood light. The two are known for being polar opposites, mainly through Bergara being a believer in the paranormal and Madej being a skeptic; this is most prominent in their ghost-hunting series Ghost Files, but can be seen here when the two argue over aliens as possible theories. This has led to a rather famous banter between the two, which is at full force from the very beginning. Bergara starts the episode by telling Madej “Open up your mind to a studious setting. I know that’s hard for you.” Instead of retorting, Madej just holds up his notebook and pen with a humorous look on his face, while Bergara begins to laugh off-camera. Madej may have been quiet at that moment, but that doesn’t stop him from throwing off out-of-pocket one-liners later on, such as “I hope this ends with someone getting the death penalty,” and “I’m staking out and I’m going to clobber that nerd.” I love the humor that these two bring to the show, not only because it’s funny, but because it helps keep it upbeat and fun to watch. 

The humor only continues in the next episode, where Madej tells Bergara all about Champ, the Lake Champlain Monster. The two once again go off on a tangent, starting with Madej imagining people skiing and then being “chomped by Champ,” only for the conversation to somehow end with Bergara jokingly saying that he had his first beer at SeaWorld at age three. It moved so far away from the topic of the episode, yet the transitions seemed so natural that it somehow makes sense that it ended up there (I personally also find it funny in general as I wonder where these conversations are going). Aside from their banter and one-liners, there’s some physical humor as well. Madej ends up putting on a low-budget sea monster costume and wears it for the entire episode. He also tries to mimic riding Champ, which just involves him throwing his body back and forth. There are a lot of different levels of humor to this show, so while some jokes may not hit for you, others are bound to.       

Bergara and the famous corkboard.

However, their humor is not the only thing that makes the show entertaining. One of the most famous bits from the show is the corkboard. After the end of the PowerPoint presentation, they begin discussing the different theories about what was truly happening in the cases through the use of a corkboard. In the Circleville Letters case, it details the different suspects who wrote the letters. For Champ, it focuses on what Champ might actually be. What makes the corkboard work is that it’s entirely covered and they pull off pieces of paper to reveal each theory. This allows the viewer to be kept in suspense, so nothing is revealed too early and causes them to be eager to find out what could be hidden behind the paper. Even once the theory is revealed, not everything may make sense on the corkboard (I was so confused over why Bergara had a picture of a Skinamarink on the board at one point), so once again the viewer is intrigued to find out what exactly all these supposed clues mean. The corkboard brings a level of seriousness to the show, and elevates the mystery aspect, while at the same time adding to the overall fun and campy vibe.

With both the humor and the mystery aspects being quite strong this season, Bergara and Madej have once again made a hit show. From old fans of BFU to new fans who love mysteries, this show has a little bit for everyone. All episodes of Mystery Files season two can now be found streaming on Watcher Entertainment’s YouTube channel.