For someone who checks their phone regularly when watching TV, it was profoundly easy to resist this habit when it came to Making A Murderer. Because it is about real-life past events, it was so clear that one could just Google the outcome but something about this Netflix produced series made me respect the idea of patience.
Making The Murderer follows the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man fighting a murder conviction. After 18 years of being wrongly jailed for a previous crime, Avery appealed against his conviction and was released. Soon after, he was convicted for the murder of a local woman. The series follows Avery, his family, and his legal team, relying on court footage, police interview CCTV as they attempt to prove Avery’s innocence and most significantly, the local police’s extent on an (alleged) vendetta against Avery.
During the first episode, it is unclear how the story would develop into 9 episodes. The episode introduced and ended a story about the first wrong conviction so it was easy to shrug off the potential that this would last a series. Then I watched five episodes that night. My brother and I would slap furniture upon the shock of some endings. The anger of being left in the dark causing us to be violent to inanimate objects, as in – ‘how the hell are we supposed to NOT watch the next episode???’ And then we clicked ‘next episode’ and the same process followed.
It ‘s clear it is produced to challenge our beliefs about the criminal justice system and even to an established cynic like me, it is still thrilling to see the LEVELS of corruption unfolding in real-life footage. Often I questioned why is this better than just watching the news? But it’s not the same because it looks at the family in a way that’s not necessarily in-depth but the conversations in their home and over the phone are memorable enough to amplify the injustice. It’s about a small community, family, even religion props up as a theme. There are so many informative things about Making A Murderer that I would feel confident switching to a career in law. The highlight of the series is Avery’s legal team Dean Strang and Jerome Buting. They had a very genuine drive to prove their client’s innocence, at times Strang feels like he is on the verge of tears when discussing his frustration at not getting justice. Without giving away spoilers, certain scenes from police interviews (where we can see officers be ridiculously manipulative) remind us that this is not fiction despite its sensational nature (all of the court room scenes – so tense and surreal) and the fact that it even becomes a whodunnit at times. It is opinionated and offers its bias to viewers and at times, we will still refuse it and occasionally ponder the worst.
Making A Murderer is so popular that it would be wild if more series aren’t made, in particular discussing the ways in which people of colour are mistreated by police authorities. While it’s great that the Avery family has had their support extended due to its increasing popularity, it is unconvincing that a programme about the American legal system would NOT be about unfair and illegal arrests and convictions directly linked with institutionalised racism. The powerful nature of this documentary is so important, it shouldn’t be hard to discuss more current patterns of police in the US.
By Ameena Khan