I had not watched a television series with as much anticipation and concentration as the one I watched last week. As someone who doesn’t care too much for sitcoms and dramas, it probably comes as no surprise that this particular series I consumed with giddy excitement was a documentary. I am talking about the Netflix masterpiece, “Making A Murderer.”
Real quickly let me address two items. First, those folks who haven’t heard of “Making A Murderer” might want a bare bones explanation of the plot. A man belonging to an outcast family in a Wisconsin town is accused and convicted of rape. After 18 years, Steven Avery is exonerated and set free. Not too long afterwards, he is accused of murder. “Making A Murderer” covers Avery’s trials and tribulations through the justice system.
Second item I want to address is that you can feel the same way I do about sitcoms when it comes to documentaries and still like “Making A Murderer.” How so? Let me explain.
The best writers in Hollywood could not have penned a better script than the real life story that revolves around Steven Avery. The twists and turns that abound in the ten episodes will leave you dumbfounded. Of course a major reason why the story is so incredible centers right on the people the documentary covers. Everyone starting with Avery leaves an impression. You have the arrogant prosecuting attorney, the old school law enforcement officers, the stern judge, the conflicted community members, the dialed in members of the local media, the tortured family members, etc. “Making A Murder” offers a gripping tale with complex and colorful characters.
Besides the heart of the story itself, you will like “Making A Murderer” just because of its completeness. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the documentary covers 35 years (1980-2015) without seemingly missing a thing. Complete action from court, hundreds of jailhouse phone calls, interrogations, countless family interviews, local newscasts throughout the years, and anything else you can think of are all preserved and reflected in the documentary. It is absolutely incredible. I kept looking over at Sidney and wondering aloud how long it must have taken to compile all this information and then sort through it to put together a powerful product that made sense.
Any good story makes you think. “Making A Murderer” is so impactful because it will make you question some societal givens. Many people will watch the documentary and question law enforcement. Many will question the judicial system. Many will question the caste system that so many communities seem to establish. You won’t watch “Making A Murderer” and not reflect on what you saw.
But besides the great story, thoroughness, and thought-provoking themes, there is something that I enjoyed about “Making A Murderer” most of all. Hands down, I loved watching the attorneys for Steven Avery in the second murder case mount his defense. The documentary gives a candid, behind the scenes look at Avery’s two high profile lawyers as they fight for his innocence. In one scene, Avery’s counsel will be engaged in a heated press conference; the next they will be sitting on a couch cheerfully discussing the case. In another scene, they will be in a stuffy room talking with Avery’s family as the dad offers his own “legal advice”; the next they will be driving in a car discussing the day’s action in court, giving credit to the prosecution for making a good strategic move. The analysis and reasoning offered by these two men is just so honest and clear that it is superb television. They break it down in a way that a football coach would a game, dissecting the big plays and exposing what went right/wrong.
My favorite part of the whole documentary is the last piece of advice given by one of Avery’s lawyers to the family moments before the verdict is read. Outside the courthouse before walking inside to hear their son’s fate, the attorney tells the Averys to be careful in the event of a not guilty verdict. He cautions them to not let anyone follow them home. If they feel that someone is tailing them, he advises the family, drive directly to the police station. Basic, yet impactful.
Having the opportunity to see that type of last minute advice in a totally raw fashion is something that I really enjoy.
So how easy is it to watch “Making A Murderer”? Well, anyone will be able to enjoy it and comprehend it. It just comes down to how long you want to take to view it all. Sidney and I watched two episodes (60 minutes each episode) over the course of five nights. Sidney said she could have binge-watched the whole thing. Personally, I would not have been able to. The later episodes are heavily focused on litigation and while it is all very interesting, I couldn’t do it hour upon hour. However you watch it though, you will enjoy it.
In closing, as with any documentary, there is an agenda that the filmmakers push. As you watch “Making A Murderer” it will become clear.
Agenda or no agenda, I highly recommend “Making A Murderer.” It provided Sidney and I with five nights of suspenseful television. Give it a chance and wrap your mind around some powerful themes. Don’t Blink.