I just finished binge-watching “Making a Murderer” and I have one piece of advice for anyone who is about to watch it.
Don’t spoil the series for yourself before you watch the entire thing.
In the coming weeks, it’ll be hard not to know the major plot details of “Making a Murderer” as the well-reviewed Netflix docuseries continues to gain traction and viewers. The 10-episode arch follows the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey as they’re investigated for the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach.
The case became national news in 2005 after Avery was released from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years for a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated by DNA evidence with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, but two years later, he was back in jail using the same DNA technology that helped free him in the first place.
You can’t make this stuff up.
And while you could go and look up the news stories from 2005 or read up on every plot twist and detail on Avery or Dassey’s Wikipedia pages, I would suggest you commit yourself to letting writers and directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos take you on this true-crime journey using only law documents, courtroom footage, one-on-one interviews, and police interrogations.
It isn’t entertaining — it’s harrowing. You might be tempted to turn to the very last page, as it were, just so you can have some peace of mind and know the ultimate fates of Dassey and Avery. Unlike the extremely popular podcast “Serial,” you don’t know the outcome immediately — there is no Adnan Syed calling Sarah Koenig from prison.
Instead, it’s just one revelation after the next. Suspicious cops, corrupt lawyers, new pieces of evidence, and heartbreaking detail after heartbreaking detail. Whether you believe Avery is guilty or not, there is plenty to parse while you watch Wisconsin’s Manitowoc County officials at work.
As one 20/20 producer explains in the docuseries, “Right now, murder is hot.” That’s true. But unlike similar true-crime narratives such as "Serial" or HBO’s "The Jinx," "Making a Murderer" doesn’t feel like entertainment, but like a close and necessary look at nearly everything that can go wrong in America’s criminal justice system.
After the show is over, you can obsess over the details, read all of the trial transcripts, and take to Reddit to discuss every minute piece of evidence.
But during the 10-plus hours of the documentary, let the case sit with you. Meet the family members of Avery and Dassey and hear the victim’s family react in real-time. See the human side of the local reporters who are covering the case and watch the nationwide media storm erupt. Be suspicious of the cops, wonder about motive, and most of all, think carefully about our court system and how it’s as fallible as the people who uphold it.
It’s only 10 hours of your life where you’ll be in suspense — and it’s completely worth it. You can stream "Making a Murderer" on Netflix now.