Making a Murderer: prepare to thrust your lives into a world of debate and speculation

Written by sjhewitt

Spoiler Alert: this article contains details about Making a Murderer.

Devastated, confused and paranoid. This is how viewers are feeling after finishing the true-crime marathon that is the new Netflix series Making a Murderer. The guilty pleasure seems to be turning us all into armchair slobs, with our eyes firmly glued on a programme that is mostly set in a dull courtroom. At the same time two middle-aged Wisconsin defence attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting have become somewhat heart throbs, defending the exhausted Steven Avery throughout his ordeal.

I should really clear things up. I will try to sum up the 10 overwhelming episodes in the next couple of sentences. Here goes. Steven Avery, from a family of autotraders, was convicted of the rape of Penny Bernsteinn in 1985. After serving 18 years in prison, new DNA evidence exonerated him and a case beset by police misconduct found Avery innocent. That whole saga is squeezed into the first episode.

“When I left prison, the anger left … I was probably the happiest man on earth.”

These words look like a relieving end to a dramatic story. But, just two years after getting out of jail, he is arrested over the rape and murder of photographer Teresa Halbach.

The directors, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, filmed the saga over 10 years and ended up moving to Wisconsin to be closer to the case and you can’t blame them. Did they expect what would happen during the years in which Avery was convicted of the murder of Halbach and sentenced to life in prison without parole? The title alone entices you as if it were a dark fictional thriller, but Ricciardi and Demos named it cleverly. How is a murderer “made”? Perhaps serving 18 years for something you didn’t do, bent cops, a flawed and controversial criminal justice system or grudges against you and your family. An even bigger question that we can’t seem to answer with confidence is who killed Teresa Halbach?


The shows immerses you in doubt and exhaustion. I found myself almost uncomfortable with all the shock reveals. Yet I would stream the next episode without looking at the time, and before you know it, you’ve completed the series in just two late-night sittings. Plus it is our nature to solve crimes, we have an appetite for it. Whether we are predicting the suspects in BBC’s Silent Witness, or trying to figure everything out before Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock does, we have this addiction to fixate ourselves to crime dramas. But these are fictional.

Is it okay that we evolve into sofa detectives after streaming 10 hours’ worth of television?

The justice system can be unfair at times, but that shouldn’t mean we create our own. But, the Avery evidence really showcases how those in charge of protecting and serving us can lack such morality. Why would the murder victim Teresa’s car keys only have Steven Avery’s prints on them? And what about the vial of Avery’s blood with the needle-sized hole in the top? The questions about the case keep on coming. The more I look at Leiutenant Lenk, the more I think he played a major role in possibly planting evidence.

So he must be innocent, right? But what about the fact Avery was the last person to see her? Evidence not in the docu-series includes that Avery had rang Teresa three times before she went missing, twice on a private number, so he couldn’t be identified. Mind-boggling. 

Nevertheless, the series’ popularity shows. Over 200,000 people signed a petition calling the White House to free Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who is serving life for aiding Avery murder Teresa. Obama can’t do anything as the case is under state law, but the huge support is heart-warming. Social media has impoded because of the series, as users create their own versions of what they think happened and who actually killed Teresa. Celebrities including Ricky Gervais and Alec Baldwin, who live tweeted whilst watching the series unfold, showed support for Avery and criticised the justice system in Wisconsin.

So if you’re looking for a new series to watch, and you are prepared to thrust your lives into a world of debate and speculation then watch Making a Murderer, arguably the most riveting and addictive series on Netflix ever.