by Kirk Douglas
I debated for some time around whether or not to write about the hotly discussed and much debated Netflix original series Making a Murderer, but like many of my other actions since watching I’ve felt compelled to do so upon further consideration. I’d like to share just a bit of my experience since completing the series and what I’ve observed online.
If you haven’t heard about it or watched the show by now, the wildly popular true crime documentary series is one not to be missed. It debuted just days before Christmas (December 18), detailing a 10 year period around the life of a once exonerated, twice convicted criminal suspect, Steven Avery.
With my family on the east coast, no time to travel and desperately in need of some rest and relaxation, I spent my entire Christmas Day watching the series; roughly 10 hours. By the second or third episode I was absolutely hooked. I found myself partially in shock by the events documented and partially enraged by the outcomes seemingly hinged on some kind of unfair twisted fate. I’ll spare you the details of the program. Instead, I suggest you watch it in its entirety before proceeding further here or forming your own opinion. In short, if you’re not enthralled with it by episode 3 or so, it is probably just not for you. For the rest of us, it is captivating.
Making a Murderer is the kind of series that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck at times. Other times, I found myself literally shaking my fist at the television out of sheer frustration towards what I had witnessed. It is a kind of story that is incredibly hard to swallow. It makes you beg for clarity and a deeper sense of understanding as the details are sometimes sparse and the evidence often lacking. There are moments captured on film that will make you gasp. Quotes that will burn themselves into your mind. It is difficult to watch at times in a way that makes you fear authorities and want to trust no one.
I believe it is this sense of captured emotion in viewers that has catapulted Making a Murderer into such a huge viral success since its release. Facebook, online forums, Twitter and the blogosphere at large have gone all-in on sharing thoughts and opinions about the program. Perhaps most interesting yet unsurprising, the counter-evidence, supporting evidence and theories around what really happened have found a home on forums like Reddit. (See Reddit.com/r/makingamurderer here).
Like other viewers have expressed online, I found that many of the subjects of the docuseries lacked competency; something particularly hard to watch from someone reasonably well-educated, and familiar with city life and cultured experiences. So the thought of Steven Avery being framed not once, but twice, seems more than plausible given the almost always lacking circumstantial evidence the film presents. Add to that footage of a ‘confession’ with coercing police officers, a questionable DA and more than a few missteps in due process and it’s a story ripe for a second look.
The one thing clearly presented in the film series is the lack of certainty around what actually happened to the victim, Teresa Halbach. But rest assured, the Internet has no shortage of theories.
Since finishing the program on Christmas Day I have found myself strangely haunted by the thought of such an unsettling verdict. Is Steven Avery truly guilty? Is Brendan Dassey even mentally or physically capable of what he was accused? How exactly did Teresa Halbach die? It all feels so unresolved. I’ve frequented news articles, listened to podcasts and watched interviews with lawyers, family members and outsiders to no avail.
When I found the Internet exploding with similar emotions it was a relief. I’ve been a fan of true crime for well over a decade and would trade in any opportunity to watch sports or comedy for a Nightline feature or Cold Case Files any day. To see people so up in arms and trying to get organized around finding the truth has been in a way, the best follow up to the series I could have asked for.
As the world waits to see if the numerous petitions to re-evaluate the cases of Steven Avery or Brendan Dassey have any effect, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts across the web concerning Making a Murder that I have found so far. In my opinion these are all worth a read or at least a look and they are a great way to finish off the series, albeit void of satisfactory conclusions. We can only hope that one day justice is truly served, both for those convicted and for Teresa Halbach and her family.
Podcast: ‘Panoply – Making A Murderer, Interview with the film makers’
A sponsored interview with the filmmakers, courtesy Panoply podcasts.
Article: ‘Why Making a Murderer is Netflix’s Most Significant Show Ever’
Forbes looks at the significance of Making A Murderer both in terms of viewership and viewer reactions.
Article: ‘…The Four Alternative Suspects’
A look at the four alternative suspects that the film left out. Pulled from allegations directly sourced from court documents.
Article: ‘The Five Best Making A Murderer Fan Theories’
The headline says it all. The Internet is ripe with fan theories and while some are more plausible than others there are a couple here that really should not be ignored.
Film makers talk about a new revelation from one of the original jurors who has since spoken out that the jury was tainted.
A fascinating blog (publisher unknown) exploring ex-boyfriend of Teresa Hallback, Ryan Hillegas, who was seemingly absent from the list of suspects. There are some interesting insights and opinions here, though not all of them check out.
Comedy: ‘The fascinating banality of Making a Murderer’s phone calls’
And finally, a little bit of comic relief in a situation that really isn’t funny. Skip to the imbedded video.