Making A Murderer

Observer.com: There is nothing “fun” about Making a Murderer. Where Serial was guided along by the calming voice of Sarah Koenig and the charismatic Adnan Syed, and The Jinx had a villain straight out of a Marvel movie in Robert Durst, Netflix’s foray into true-crime has nothing but a cold Wisconsin, a junk car yard, and utter hopelessness. When Netflix first released the trailer, I called it “Serial You Can Binge-Watch.” Please, don’t binge-watch Making a Murderer. Out of necessity I powered through all ten episodes, and spent the rest of my night staring out a window at the rain. Making a Murderer doesn’t send you off to the internet to discuss the details. It doesn’t inspire fevered speculation. Forget Ryan Murphy, this is an actual American horror story, and what it does inspire is fear. Namely, fear of an easily manipulated justice system, a nagging voice that says repeatedly “that could be me.” Steven Avery’s defense lawyer Jerry Buting sums it up toward the end: “We can all say we will never commit a crime,” he says. “But we can never guarantee that someone will never accuse us of a crime. And if that happens, good luck in this criminal justice system.”

Making a Murderer might as well have come sans soundtrack, because the only sound you’ll hear is your own voice, constantly saying out loud”Oh, come on!” It is a long, frustrating process, and I’m not sure what point is the most infuriating. Is it episode one, which covers the initial sexual assault case, where there is NO speculation or doubt. You know Mr. Avery is later exonerated, and you’re actually watching an entire county’s police force mangle, stumble, and completely botch an investigation. (A lot of people come off bad in Making a Murderer, but perhaps no one as comically so as Chief Deputy Eugene Kusch, who framed the original, completely biased sketch that sent Mr. Avery to jail for 18 years like a proud child putting a drawing on the fridge). Or maybe it’s the lack of physical evidence tying Mr. Avery to the murder of Teresa Halbach, and the breaking of pretty much all protocol by Manitowoc’s police department in obtaining any evidence at all.

Strangely, the most tragic figure in all of this isn’t Mr. Avery, it’s his then-16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey. Mr. Dassey became a key figure in the prosecution’s case after the high school junior gave a statement saying he not only walked in on Mr. Avery standing over Ms. Halbach chained to a bed, but then participated in the woman’s rape and eventual murder. It seems pretty cut and dry until you get to the end of episode three, which is as horrifying and haunting as any piece of television in years. With nary a parent or lawyer in sight, investigators Mark Wiegert and Tom Fassbender take Mr. Dassey out of school and get a confession so coerced it’s actually sickening. It’s all filmed, so we get to watch as a 16-year-old with an IQ of 69 throws his life away completely because he’s too intimated to tell the truth.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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