The phenomenally popular Serial podcast might currently be airing its second season, but let’s be honest, it hasn’t quite filled the hole left by season one. Serial’s telling of the murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee and the incarceration of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was all-consuming. The breaks between instalments were unbearable. We couldn’t stop talking about it, we dreamt about it, we cancelled on our friends to listen to it.
And, with reels of footage, exclusive interviews and countless conspiracy theories, Making a Murderer comes close to replicating last year’s obsession. The only thing it’s missing is Sarah Koenig’s dulcet tones…
Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, a man from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, who served 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit, only to be convicted of murder not long after his release.
He was originally accused of rape, but was released nearly two decades later after DNA analysis proved his innocence. After his exoneration, he filed a lawsuit against Manitowoc County police and during that case he was arrested for the murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach.
Avery is currently serving a life sentence at the Waupun Correctional Institution. He maintains his innocence and claims the police framed him for the murder to put an end to his case against them. Ten years later the story is still ongoing. The documentary has even sparked a petition calling for President Obama to pardon Avery.
This might be true crime, but it’s jam-packed full of shocking twists, jaw-dropping revelations and clever cliffhangers. It’s seriously gripping stuff. I challenge you not to binge huge chunks of it in one go.
This is only Netflix’s second documentary and what a documentary. Making a Murderer was made by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. The pair met as graduate students at Columbia University where they read about Stephen Avery’s case in The New York Times in 2005. They then headed to Wisconsin and started filming. The process took the pair 10 years.
This documentary is sobering stuff. It’s shocking and confusing and poses important questions about class, money, negligence, abuse of power, human error and the trust we place in people in positions of authority. At the centre of the story is the troubling claim that Avery was framed by law enforcement officials. And Making a Murderer is no historical crime drama. It’s looking at America’s current criminal justice system.