It has been just over a month since Steven Avery and the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department came into our lives through our Netflix accounts and no one has felt the same since. We screamed abuse whenever the slimy prosecutor Ken Kratz came on screen and shuddered every time he (in his unnervingly soft voice) uttered the name Teresa Halbach. We guiltily giggled every time poor Brendan Dassey changed his story and managed to have full conversations with his mother that only consisted of the word ‘yeah’. And, of course, we swooned over the power couple defence team of Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, whose ‘lawyer-sex-symbol’ status surpasses even that of Harvey Specter. But now, as most of us are compulsive binge-watchers with nothing to do but complete the series over a weekend, we are left with a Making A Murderer shaped hole in our lives. We need new, disturbing, gritty documentaries to try and fill that hole, because, in the words of a certain Dateline reporter -“murder is hot right now”. So here are a few true crime documentaries to obsess over in you post Making A Murderer state:
- The Central Park Five: Following the rape of a young woman out for a jog in Central Park in 1989, a group of young black and Latino men were arrested and spent between 9 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed to the heinous crime. This documentary highlights the huge injustice done to these young men due to the media-sparked fear in the City of New York in the crime’s immediate aftermath and the public outcry for someone to be held responsible. Another look at the discriminatory and deeply flawed criminal justice system of America, this documentary is right there on Netflix ready to be watched.
- The Trials of Darryl Hunt: Similarly to the story of Steven Avery, Darryl Hunt spent nearly 20 years in prison for a rape and murder which he did not commit. In many ways an earlier version of Making A Murderer, this documentary highlights police corruption and racial bias in America’s Deep South (it’s not just snowy Wisconsin where the crooked cops hang out you know). Hunt’s story is all the more harrowing as the death sentence was hanging over his head and one can’t help but wonder where he would be now if the Innocence Project had not gotten involved and secured his release from prison.
- West of Memphis: It is quite shocking how many wrongful conviction documentaries there are out there – but this one is regarded as one of the best. It follows the Memphis Three, a group of teenage boys wrongfully convicted for the murder of three eight year old boys. We again see ‘Brendan Dassey-like’ teens who were easily manipulated and coerced by law enforcement to confess, and a conviction which seemed based on the boys’ rebellious attitudes and love for heavy metal as much as anything else. This film follows the Paradise Lost trilogy which further highlights the injustice done in this case.
The Jinx: Moving on from the wrongful-conviction theme, this HBO miniseries investigates unsolved crimes which seem to surround Robert Durst, a Texan multi-millionaire, whose wife disappeared in 1982, and whose neighbour was brutally dismembered in 2001. The series spans 20 years and uses security footage and police interviews and even features telephone interviews with Durst himself, the recluse who previously wanted nothing to do with the press, but after seeing another film by the filmmaker, agreed to take part. The series is widely acclaimed, especially for its incredible finale which Esquire magazine called “one of the most jaw-dropping moments in television history”. With only 6 episodes, this is the perfect show to wean someone off of their Making A Murderer addiction.
- Tara Casey, Features Writer