Netflix’s docu-series Making a Murderer has made an almighty splash these past few weeks. Created by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, it tells the story of Steven Avery – a 41-year old man from Wisconsin who was released from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years for a rape that he did not commit.
The programme shows how two years later, Avery and his nephew are arrested, charged and found guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach in the midst of Avery’s $36 million lawsuit against Manitwoc county for his initial wrongful conviction.
But at the same time as generating scores of column inches and plenty of chatter on the internet, critics of the series have also called into question its objectivity, an accusation Ricciardi and Demos have responded to Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, calling their show a documentary – not a piece of journalism
“We did not set out to convict or exonerate anyone,” said Ricciardi. “We set out to examine the criminal justice system and how it’s functioning today.”
Those contesting the show’s accuracy claim that key pieces of evidence proving Avery’s guilt in the case were left out of the series. “Of course we left out evidence,” Ricciardi said. “Of what was omitted, the question is: was it really significant? The secret is no.”
The series has sparked a wave of support for Avery, including a petition signed by over 400,000 individuals calling for an official pardon. Riccardi and Demos both acknowledged that viewers had been “very affected” by the series, but added: “We’re trying to urge people to think more deeply about what the series is about.”
But while viewers continue to flock to the series, Avery’s former fiancé Jodi Stachowski has since told US current affairs show Nancy Grace that her ex was a “monster” and that the series is “all lies”.
When asked about this reversal of opinion, Demos said that she had no explanation for Stachowski’s recent comments. “When we filmed with her nine years ago, this is what she was saying to us. It is an accurate portrayal of what she was saying and feeling at the time.”
The creators added that since the show’s debut, they had recorded more phone calls with Avery, claiming that they could potentially be used for future episodes if they pursue a second season.
“This story is ongoing,” Demos said. “It’s real life. You don’t know what will happen.”