Dateline. Investigation Discovery. The First 48. Making a Murderer. Unsolved Mysteries. Serial. My Favorite Murder. Crime Junkie. The Keepers. Dirty John. Charles Manson. Jeffrey Dahmer. Ted Bundy. How many of these names have you heard? Listened to? Read about?

I can’t explain the widespread fascination with true crime stories, but I do count myself among the genre’s many fans. From the longtime success of crime television to the modern podcast landscape, people have always been a little obsessed with the dark side of human nature. As podcasts have exploded over the past few years, true crime has naturally found another home.

One of my favorite podcasts boasts weekly stories about both chilling criminals and strange creatures, all while told by two best friends who have found an audience and a platform — And That’s Why We Drink.

And That’s Why We Drink is a paranormal and true crime podcast with a new episode out every Sunday. The hosts, Em Schulz and Christine Schiefer, split each episode into two parts: Em leads with a paranormal tale and Christine follows up with her true crime pick. So far this year, Em has brought alien abductions, Indigenous folklore and The Simpsons-based conspiracies to the table, while Christine has covered a mother hunting her daughter’s killers, kidnappings and a college murder-suicide that hit a little too close to home.

Em and Christine also do a monthly listener’s episode featuring selected stories from fans, which are sometimes scarier than anything the hosts pick that month. Since they’ve asked people how listening to the show has cursed them, I’ve been too scared to play a listener’s episode. I might be a fan, but I’m not about to let that kind of energy enter my life. The recordings of live shows from an old tour are my particular favorites, especially during this pandemic when I can only dream of the day I attend live events again. Hearing the sounds of an audience’s laughter and listening to Em and Christine perform live together (they’re now recording from their respective homes), serves as a pick-me-up, even if the material isn’t traditionally uplifting.

Whether you start at the beginning of the show or at the most recent release, the close friendship between Em and Christine is immediately evident. The two met during graduate school in Boston and became friends when both participated in a program that sent them out to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. They discovered their mutual passion in the middle of a hayride, a landmark moment you’ll learn all about if you listen.

Listening to And That’s Why We Drink really does feel like hanging out with two friends, or at least like being a fly on the wall while Em and Christine catch up on their lives and trade weird personal anecdotes. In Episode 208, titled “Creepy Coats and a Party Lemon” (yes, all the titles are like that), Christine goes on a tangent about her beloved Carvana cup and the desperate journey she went on in an attempt to find an exact replacement for the only cup that has ever gotten her to drink water. Neither host shies away from sharing personal thoughts and stories about themselves or their friends and family that might seem “weird” to an inexperienced listener — but there’s really no such thing as “weird” when while you're diving into killers and ghosts and kidnappers and aliens.  

In the same vein, both hosts are very open about their own complicated personal struggles. Over the course of four years of podcasting, both have gone on mental health journeys, all the while discussing the difficulties of getting diagnosed, finding a good provider and the trial and error of figuring out the medication that works. Em uses they/them pronouns and was a featured creator of Spotify’s Pride campaign, pictured with the genderqueer flag. Em is also dating Christine’s old college roommate, a romantic subplot that unfolds from the start of the podcast. Christine is the child of German immigrants and spoke German before she ever spoke English, so she has plenty of wild stories about her mother and father.

Christine is very open about her physical health problems as someone who lives with Crohn’s and, over the course of 2020, experienced three miscarriages, including one on Christmas Day. She posted a video on YouTube talking about her miscarriages, and despite her own fears and reservations, found a community full of support and kindness. She recently said she was happy with her decision to finally share with the public, as it allowed other people to find connections and support and to speak about their own experiences — something more valuable now than ever.

On a lighter note, And That’s Why We Drink has also started a monthly newsletter in which they use their platform to feature: a patron of the month, a pet of the month, fan art, a BIPOC podcast, a wine of the month (Christine’s drink of choice), a milkshake of the month (Em’s drink of choice), a small business, a horoscope for Christine’s dog Gio (aka a Gioscope), a watch recommendation from Em and a watch recommendation from Christine. It’s a very long newsletter, but I love that they use this relatively new project to promote other podcasts and businesses, particularly BIPOC voices and small businesses during this time.

In addition to Em and Christine, there’s an entire cast to get to know including Gio the dog, an assistant Eva, a petrified lemon Christine has adopted and so much more. I haven’t been able to find another production quite like this anywhere out there. There’s really no way for me to communicate in written words what Em and Christine are like as a duo, so if you, too, are a fan of all things creepy, you can listen to them on Spotify or watch them on Youtube.

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