I’m not a True Crime genre fanatic like my mother. She watches Court TV all the time and has pretty much since it started back in the day. As a reader I do like a good mystery; I love Sherlock Holmes. I am, of course, fascinated by people and what makes them tick in general or I wouldn’t be a writer. And you can probably blame my Irish roots for the morbid fascination with people in horrific circumstances. (We do love a good tragedy that’s so bad it’s nearly poetry, after all.)
Making a Murderer is a 10-part documentary series, not a movie, which is the first oddity. It’s about a criminal–not his crimes–which is the second oddity. The third and final oddity is its lack of bias despite the documentary genre. I’ve found a goodly number of documentaries at least have an agenda about what they want you to take away from their ‘lessons,’ but Murderer doesn’t do that. It simply presents evidence and lets you, like a jury, come to your own conclusion.
Maybe that’s the point of it all.
Loosely, Murderer centers around Steven Avery, who was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit; DNA evidence exonerated him and he was released … and then he was promptly re-arrested for another crime not quite three years later, along with his nephew who was a supposed collaborator.
I started watching around 9pm on Saturday night thinking, “Oh, I’ll watch a couple eps before bed, it’s supposed to be good.” …and finally had to turn off the tv at 3:30am mid-episode or I wouldn’t have stopped until I’d finished the whole thing. It is, quite simply, mesmerizing.
There is such an incredible horror to the circumstances surrounding Steven and his whole family, it’s almost like he’s the new Job. You know, from the Bible. The series itself doesn’t draw conclusions about Steven’s guilt or innocence in the second crime, but I sure as hell did. Every time the Prosecutor did something, or the Judge denied a motion, or something happened with the jury, my astonishment continued to grow.
(I’m sure you can tell by now that I think he and his nephew are both innocent.)
Regardless of my thoughts on the matter, Making a Murderer should be watched for the captivating look into the depths of our legal system alone. I consider myself a pretty well informed person. I know how things work when it comes to the government and law enforcement… at least, I thought I did until I watched this show. Now I’m kind of worried.
Also? The heads of the Innocence Project of Wisconsin were absolute jackasses about this and I’m glad the series doesn’t spare them. They wouldn’t touch Steven with a hundred-foot-pole the second time around. Did it not occur to them that, being in the process of exposing corruption in the local legal/law enforcement community at the time, that his re-arrest just might be suspect? No? Okie dokey then. *rolls eyes so hard they pop out*
I also want to mention the music, which was practically a character unto itself. It was both understated and essential to the mood of the show. The score was by Kevin Kiner, the themes were by Gustavo Santaolalla and there was “additional music” by Jared Foreman and Dean Kiner. The Music editor was Chris Tergesen. I don’t know who did what, but dayam. All put together, it was outstanding.
The producers/directors/writers, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, know their shit to the nth degree. I truly can’t wait to see what they come up with next whether it’s a follow up to this one or a completely new case. Netflix needs to renew this now.