If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, or even just online, the chances are you’ll have been subjected to an abundance of tweets, articles and opinions onMaking A Murderer. As it’s streamed on Netflix only you won’t have seen an advert for the show on television, unless of course it’s been due to interviews or conversations with the filmmakers. Making A Murderer is purely internet driven, a word of mouth show like barely anything before. Yet why has it been so popular? What is it about this true crime documentary that taken the country and the world by storm?
With comparisons to the podcast Serial and HBO’s incredible documentary The Jinx, Making A Murderer was always going to be on my radar. The trailer blew me away and I was literally counting down the days to December 18th when all 10 episodes were released on Netflix. I watched them all in the space of a few days and then rewatched them a week later. After both viewings I was speechless.
The documentary follows the story of Steven Avery, a man imprisoned in 1985 for sexual assault and attempted murder. After 18 years in jail he was finally exonerated after DNA testing proved him innocent. It was a mere two years later Avery’s name was back on everyones lips, attracting the attention of the national media as well as Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, the directors of Making A Murderer. Why? Avery had once again been arrested, except this time it was for murder.
From the get go Avery maintained his innocence just as he had twenty years earlier, adamant that this time the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department were setting him up. The events that followed, ten years worth of court cases, prison visits and brutally honest (and some perhaps not so honest) interviews are all documented in Making A Murderer.
Like Serial and The Jinx, Making A Murderer appeals to the general public for a number of different reasons. Firstly there’s the actual story. Did Avery really do it? Was Brendan Dassey even involved? Why does Lieutenant Lenk keep popping up everywhere? The overall story is compelling enough to keep any drama or crime enthusiast hooked. It’s the whodunit element that immediately draws viewers because, well if Avery didn’t do it, who did? The conspiracy theories presented are another reason why so many people are obsessed. If Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department did set Avery up, how did they do it? Who in the department was involved? And most importantly, why would certain people risk throwing away their reputations and livelihoods to destroy one man’s life?
If you haven’t yet watched the show you’re probably going to be wondering about the amount of questions I’ve just thrown out. Truthfully though, that isn’t even half of them. There is so much to this story and so much that is left unanswered, and as human beings this drives us crazy. We crave truth. We hate being left in the dark. We want answers. And strangely this is exactly why Making A Murderer is so appealing.
This is a show that was born for the water cooler moment. Everyone who watches it will have an opinion on all the questions above plus many, many more. This is a show that we can debate with each other, throw out theories and listened intently to other people’s ideas. But then there’s the kicker moment when we remember that this story that we’re so heavily debating is in fact real and it’s happening right now. At this exact moment Steven Avery is in his jail cell and, regardless of our thoughts and opinions on the case, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Of course petitions have been made calling for Avery’s release and at last check the number of signatures was closing in on 400,000. The White House have even commented on the matter, stating that they cannot grant a pardon due the fact that they only do so for offences committed “against the United States”. The latest to the case is that Avery has a new Legal Team who are once again sifting through the evidence.
Making A Murderer has however thrown out one incredibly important and frankly quite terrifying question. If this case was a set up by the local law enforcement, how many times has this happened in the United States or even the rest of the world before? I dread to think of how many innocent men and women are sitting in jail cells if true.
I ranked Making A Murderer at number two on my list of Best Shows of 2015, just behind the fantastic Doctor Foster. While I try to keep myself from dwelling too much on what I think is a total injustice, Making A Murderer is a TV show that I certainly won’t forget in a hurry. It will leave an impact on you one way or the other, and I don’t doubt that this will be a show talked about for many more months to come.
Contributed by Kay Dekker