Netflix Phenomenon ‘Making a Murderer’ Has Not Only Re-Shaped The ‘True Crime’ Genre- It Has Created A New Tool For Investigative Journalism | Unusuality Productions
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making a murderer

20 Jan Netflix Phenomenon ‘Making a Murderer’ Has Not Only Re-Shaped The ‘True Crime’ Genre- It Has Created A New Tool For Investigative Journalism

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s hit documentary ‘Making a Murderer’ by now, you’re part of a minority that is diminishing by the day. The ten-episode series has taken the world by storm, after it shed light on some shocking and unbelievable revelations from the Steven Avary saga; spanning footage from over a decade.

The documentary has become the latest talking point to ‘break the internet’: social media sites overloaded with discussions about the story, and even a petition sent to the White House to free Avary from prison. What makes ‘MAM’ so enticing is that it’s an incredibly intense and large-scale project, the like of which has rarely been seen in the ‘true crime’ genre before.  making a murderer

Earlier this year, audiences were gripped by ‘The Jinx’, which accounts the tale of Robert Durst’s involvement with numerous disappearances and murders. That series was six episodes long. ‘MAM’ is packed with ten hour-long episodes that immerse you chronologically in a real-life courtroom drama, which has been shot over a sustained period of time: piecing together every tiny resource that has been found to create a monumental dossier of evidence.

There is a real possibility that the series could set the bar for further documentaries of crime studies, and serve as a ground-breaking piece of investigative journalism.

making a murderer

Without any need for a ‘spoiler alert’ in all capitals, the low-down is this: Steven Avary, who had various run-ins with the law during his younger years, is convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in his home region of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and serves 18 years in prison, before DNA results prove the police got the wrong guy.

Just as he is getting his life together, as well as preparing a lawsuit against Manitowoc County and the sheriff that put him behind bars, Avary is controversially embroiled in a new crime that threatens to turn his life back upside down again, as he continues his on-going fight for freedom.

Unlike the one-off true crime drama’s we’ve seen in the past, where many of the theories are pure speculation, the sheer amount of effort and time that has been invested in documenting the ‘MAM’ saga is nothing short of sensational. The cameras have been rolling since Avary’s initial release from prison in 2003, and have captured almost every moment along the way until years following his re-incarceration.

Show creators Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos originally pitched it the idea to Netflix as a two-hour film documentary, but the streaming service, impressed by the amazing amount of footage they had, proposed a ten-episode series.

making a murderer

Ricciardi and Demos make sure that every detailed reveal, even if it’s as small as a written note, is vital towards the investigation. The entire story comes together like a puzzle: a remarkable example of exposing wrongdoing that has gone unnoticed for years, and brings a tale worth telling to the public eye.

Future filmmakers, take note.


Oli Gamp is a recent Media graduate from Birmingham City University who works as a freelance writer. He has had work featured by the Independent, the Daily Mail and Yahoo News and lives in North London.