Rapid Insights Trend: The Horror of Dolores Roach and Other Podcast-Inspired Shows

Amazon Prime Video’s newest original series, releasing next week, will be joining the swelling ranks of buzzy scripted shows developed from popular podcasts. This notable list includes the likes of GaslitThe DropoutDirty John, and The Shrink Next Door from the based-on-a-true-story side, as well as Homecoming and Archive 81 from the purely fictional; Prime’s horror-dramedy will join the latter as the Sweeney Todd-inspired story of an ex-felon masseuse who inadvertently becomes a killer. For this analysis, The Horror of Dolores Roach trailer was examined, though it is not unusual for Vault to analyze podcasts, something done early on to test the commercial viability of content even before a script has been written.

Here’s what you need to know about The Horror of Dolores Roach and this podcast-based trend:

Vault AI uses index scores to describe the impact a given story/theme/element will have on specific KPIs: 
≤79 Disappointing  80-89 Challenging  90-109 Average  110-119 Promising  120+ Outstanding

Is there a typical audience for these types of shows?
Not really. The specific story being told determines who’ll be watching it, from the heavily female-skewing (Dirty JohnThe Thing About Pam) to the more male-leaning (WeCrashedJoe vs Carole), though nearly all appeal most strongly to viewers 30+. For Dolores Roach, we’re predicting a balanced viewership (51% female) and being mostly older (67% aged 30+).

What do podcast-based series tend to have in common?
Dark twists. These tales–whether fictional or not–are filled with ScandalConspiracy & Cover-UpsBetrayalMoral DilemmasScheming, and Ruthlessness, all of which provide excellent fodder for a story told in chapters. Audiences can’t help but come back to watch the shocking events unfold, whether it’s the hubris-filled downfall of a company (WeCrashedThe Dropout), the concealment of murder (The Thing About PamDr. DeathDolores Roach), or abusers and con artists behaving badly (Dirty JohnThe Shrink Next DoorHomecoming).

What makes these shows so watchable?
The relationships. To flesh out their deception-filled worlds, these series turn the spotlight onto the protagonists’ loved ones, who either contribute to their schemes or become innocent collateral damage. Either way, the focus on themes like Family ConflictMarital ProblemsMother-Child RelationshipsFamily DysfunctionUnlikely Friendship, and Coworker Dynamics adds layers and emotional stakes to the can’t-look-away core conspiracies.

What will set Dolores Roach apart?
Its setting. While the series leans into the same central themes that make podcast-based shows popular (Conspiracy & Cover-Ups, 152; Moral Dilemmas, 135; Friendship, 129), it’s the specificity of its world that will draw in viewers. Dolores Roach’s built-in Cultural Diversity (160) as it follows Latino characters in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Washington Heights (NYC Setting, 129) and its plunge into the Culinary World (128) of a Sweeney Todd-inspired empanada shop will help drive both ratings and bingeability.

Is the original source podcast important to a show’s ratings?
No. Though it may help with initial buzz, the podcast IP that gave birth to these scripted series is not a top reason for viewers to watch them; instead, audiences tune in for the specific story being told. That said, a show Based on a True Story that has hit the zeitgeist–which the original podcast may have fed into–can indeed ride the popularity of its tale to better ratings (The DropoutWeCrashedThe Thing About PamDr. DeathJoe vs Carol).

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*Publicly released trailers for series are evaluated using Vault AI’s algorithms – utilizing our proprietary 120K+ story element database alongside ratings performance and other datasets – to identify unique combinations of stories, themes, characters, and genre elements that will drive success.

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