Literally everyone is talking about “Making a Murderer.” Even the White House had to make a speech about it last week after a change.org petition received thousands of signatures. After all of the hype these last few months, I knew had to watch the Netflix show that was receiving so much buzz.
And sure enough, it only took one episode for me to become completely hooked.
The whole story was absolutely tantalizing, but after I had binged on half of the series, I realized that I was being drawn in for all of the wrong reasons.
It Makes You Feel Like You Know Best, When You Really Don’t
I felt like a professional. During the end of the first two episodes I sat with the people I watched it with and “examined” all of the evidence. Plus I started to speculate every action that the government was taking with the Steven Avery cases. I was a detective, someone who saw what others just didn’t, but let’s get real — I’m not actually trained in criminal justice, like most of those who watched it.
It Leaves Out Key Evidence
Even after Avery was convicted of rape and murder, I still question if he is guilty or not. However, right after watching the series, I was left feeling like this was a snap decision that hadn’t been thought out. The series left me feeling like there was all this evidence that the court had pretended not to see, but in reality the series actually withheld evidence from the viewers. I was so upset about the series that I did some reading up on the case. I still believe that there were some things that were planted by the police, but there was key information left out.
For instance: Avery had been seemingly obsessed with Teresa Halbach, and she had complained to her boss about going out to take pictures on Avery’s property. The documentary makes no notice of Teresa’s claims.
You Forget That Teresa Halbach Was a Real Person, and A Victim
One of the worst parts about shows like this is that while it’s important to exonerate people who are innocent, it leads to thousands of people speculating on the case, and very few think much about the fact that this isn’t a fun game of Clue, but it’s a real life murder case.
Teresa Halbach isn’t just a pawn — she was a real person, with thoughts, dreams, people who loved her, gifts to offer the world. She died tragically.
We get so caught up in thinking about who could have possibly murdered her — pouncing on her brother as a possible suspect because he didn’t exactly act like how we think a grieving person did — that we forget there is a real woman at the heart of this case who died too young. It turns into something that ruined Stephen Avery’s life at best in our eyes and a silly game at worst. He might be innocent, which would be absolutely awful after the time he spent in jail. But it’s also awful this woman was murdered, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that either.
You Lose Your Ability to be Objective
The absolute worst part about this show: I was 100 percent on Avery’s side.
I had been turned into one of the biased people that I had grown to hate in the show. After finishing the series and having a few days to think about the whole ordeal I have formed a new opinion, but the way that his story was framed makes the viewer partial to Avery. Without knowing it the viewer becomes what they hate most in the show. The series depicts the government as an ill-informed, biased group that has no desire to know the evidence against their point of view, and that is exactly what the show is hoping to do to viewers. You too become biased, with no interest in hearing the evidence against Avery.
Is he innocent? He may very well be. Was evidence planted? Maybe! There is good reason to suspect he could be innocent, even more reason to suspect his nephew, Brendan Dassey, convicted as an accessory, is innocent. There is good reason to have a retrial. But it doesn’t mean that there was no strong evidence against him, either.
These stories are fascinating and important to be told. But it’s also important to keep in mind why the story is being told, so we can form our own opinion, instead of blindly believing what’s in front of us — a lesson we want the court to learn in this story and one we should know for ourselves, too.