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Crime News Snapped

Here's How Producers Choose Cases Featured on Snapped — and How It's Evolved Over the Years

When Snapped premiered in 2004, the production team was just hoping the "really unique" show would resonate with fans. Now it's celebrating 20 years.

By Jill Sederstrom

When Snapped first premiered 20 years ago, it was before the days of true-crime obsessed fans, crime conventions, or even television networks dedicated to all things true crime.

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Watch Snapped on Oxygen Sundays 6/5c and next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Oxygen App.

“When Snapped first started it was really unique, there weren’t as many competitors,” Madeline Griffey, the executive producer and showrunner for Snapped, told Oxygen.com. “It was a totally different landscape.”

Those behind the beloved crime series were just hoping the show would resonate with viewers. 

Now, 33 seasons later, Snapped is celebrating its 20-year anniversary and has drawn millions of viewers captivated by its in-depth investigations and first-hand accounts during its lengthy run. Over more than 500 episodes, Snapped has told the stories of hundreds of women driven to kill by jealousy, revenge, money, love, or an even more sinister motive.

“I think it’s really an achievement that we have kept it going, but the quality just continues to improve,” Griffey said. “We are really just making sure that we’re telling these stories the best way possible.” 

In honor of the 20-year milestone, Griffey and Dave Lane, director of recreations for Jupiter Entertainment and a field producer on Snapped, spoke to Oxygen.com about the series’ humble beginnings, how it’s made today, and the future ahead. 

Snapped Over the Years

Lane can still recall the premiere party for Snapped’s very first episode and noted how much the series has changed over the years. 

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“They were 30 minutes at that time, we used a green screen background,” he shared. “The show looked a lot different than it does now.” 

Although those involved with the series had “high hopes” it would be well received, Lane admitted its success wasn’t guaranteed.

“We thought, man, if we get a season or two out of this series, that’s gonna be awesome,” he recalled. “We just didn’t know how people were gonna take it. The landscape was so much different then it is now in terms of true crime.” 

While true crime has now become part of the public’s “vernacular” and a regular topic on social media, Lane said it wasn’t as immersed into the culture back then.

Snapped 33 Key art

Griffey, who first joined the show as a production assistant in Season 8, described the series’ early days as of somewhat of a “wild west.” 

Each episode was made with a much smaller staff, many of whom often served dual roles. 

“When I first started on set you had the director/DP [director of photography]/grip and gaff [who] was all one person,” she shared. 

There was also a post-producer who was in charge of scripting and another who was in charge of casting, scheduling, props, and wardrobe. 

“It was like the tiniest team and it has expanded so much over the years and [the] set looks totally different now,” she shared. “We have this huge studio that we’re able to use, which is great.”

The recreations in those initial episodes also often relied on “blurs, beams, and rays” to give them a “dreamlike effect.”

“We’ve gotten very, very professional and yes, much improved these days,” she said.

How is Snapped made today?

Today, Snapped runs much like a well-oiled machine.

According to Griffey, there is a team who is “constantly” watching the news and courts to find women whose stories could be a good fit for the series.

“As soon as a woman’s name comes up, we flag it and we are tracking it as it goes through the judicial process,” she said, adding that they pay close attention to “big voices” that are part of the case and any past media coverage.

In most instances, the Snapped team waits until a case is fully adjudicated before deciding whether to pursue a story.

“Our viewers really want to see the justice,” she said. “They want to see this full resolution of the case.”

The next step in the process is making sure they can get the “voices” needed to tell each story in a way that honors the victim.

“Our bookers make sure that we’re getting the voices that we need to tell these stories and do these stories justice,” she explained. “A lot of Snapped is making sure that we are telling the victim’s story … We’re keeping in mind, this is someone’s life and this has really affected everyone that is involved.”

For a story to make it as an episode, Snapped bookers work to find the victims’ friends and family, investigators, prosecutors, and someone who can speak for the perpetrator.

“I feel like there are a lot of true crime shows out there, but Snapped is really strong because we make sure we have all these firsthand voices who are walking us through and we are learning about the case with them, through their eyes, as it progresses,” she said. “I think that’s what makes it such a cool and unique show.”

From there, Snapped leadership talks with Oxygen executives to make sure each episode is “intriguing enough” for viewers, before setting out to begin filming.

Field producers are tasked with really diving into each story, getting the interviews needed in the field before handing the material over to the script writers and those who will help bring the recreations, which are shot and produced in Knoxville, Tennessee, to life. 

For Lane, a central part of the process is working closely with the victim and perpetrators’ friends, family, and loved ones to understand what brings a person to their breaking point. 

“Help us understand how a person who seemingly looks like every one of us, who has a career like many of us, how do they get to the precipice of anger …t he rage or the resentment or the revenge,” he said, stressing that production is careful not to “create a narrative that didn’t exist.

What can fans expect from the future of Snapped?

This month, Snapped resumes its 33rd season and celebrates 20 years on the air. But even after more than 500 episodes, Griffey promised there are still more sinister surprises in store for devoted fans, including a killer clown in the series.

“We have seen it all and like every bizarre and unique case, it’s like, you never know what you’re going to come up with,” she said. “It still continues to surprise you … how these stories can be so different.”

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