NETFLIX has really struck gold in recent years, becoming an unexpected source of some television hits. Shows such as House of Cards, Bojack Horseman and Daredevil show the diversity the streaming service produces. Now that diversity has grown, with the release of several feature films, and now a documentary series. Making a Murderer is that series. The shows sees two producers follow the aftermath of the murder of Teresa Halbach, a local photographer, and how Steven Avery, a man formerly wrongly convicted of sexual assault, became embroiled.
The show begins by giving some background on Avery: his upbringing, his imprisonment for petty crimes, his attitude and how he was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years. It then sets the scene, brings in the characters, and demonstrates how Avery’s eventual victory over the people that imprisoned him may have been his downfall. As Avery is arrested for the murder of Halbach, many questions about his innocence arise, as his lawyers uncover layer after layer of possible corruption.
In terms of the content of MaM, the filmmakers have tapped into something that every human being has – curiosity. As the series progresses, the audience finds themselves pulled further and further down the rabbit hole of the case, enthralled by even the smallest of details. The True Crime documentary, once seen somewhat as a guilty pleasure, has hit the big time with MaM, which makes all those Channel 5 documentaries look dry as hell.
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself and remember, this is ‘True Crime’. These are real people, involved with real events, which all really happened. With big personalities and even bigger twists, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that this is another classic Netflix series. But the fact that this is all real footage and real interview is what helps make it a hit. What the series suggests, on top of the actual case itself, is almost too mad to be true.
MaM does all of this with a pretty stripped back formula. There’s no celebrity narrator, guiding the viewer through this experience, in fact there’s rarely any guidance at all, save the occasional on screen text. Instead, each episode follows collections of interviews, news reports, court footage and the producer’s own fly-on-the-wall following of the some of the key players. It’s a formula that requires the attention of the viewer but pays off. Even the prolonged scenes in the courtroom keep the viewer hanging on for every word.
The narrative itself comes very much from the side of Steven Avery, which has lead to some criticism of bias. While it’s true that the series does subtly (perhaps sometimes not so subtly) argue that Steven Avery is innocent, it seems unfair to accuse the series of being one sided, most notably because various members of the prosecution refused to take part. But MaM has an underlying feeling that it’s telling the story that no one would listen to, or was overlooked by the media.
But even if you don’t agree with it, it’s hard to deny how rivetingly addictive the series is. With one swoop it’s fallen alongside Breaking Bad in my binge-watching category and with good merit. MaM is an insightful, thought-provoking, clever, and quite frankly, enjoyable masterpiece. Netflix have really tapped into something by investing in a story followed for over 10 years by two filmmakers just out of college. This isn’t just for people who enjoy documentaries, anyone who’s ever enjoyed a Netflix series should check this out. Making a Murderer defies genre borders to make it one of those must-watch series.
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