A little less than a year ago, I felt like I was possibly the only person on the plant, who didn’t set my life on hold, as Netflix’ aired its highly noticeable documentary Making A Murderer. Well, now the time finally came for me to surrender my existence. So I may be a little late to the party, but here is my two cents on the Steven Avery case and his battle of innocent in Making A Murderer.
For 18 years, the American Steven Avery was imprisoned for a rape he did not commit. In 2003, he was finally released, but it didn’t take long before he was once again behind bars. This time, he was charged for the brutal murder of the journalist Teresa Halbach, when her car and remains was found close to the resident of Steven Avery in 2005.
In the series’ teen episodes, we follow the trial against the now 54 year old Avery. Throughout the entire process, he is proclaiming his innocents, but ultimately he is convicted for life imprisonment without parole. Charged and convicted alongside Avery is his at the time 17 year old nephew Brandon Dassey, who with questionably representation confesses to his and his uncle’s crimes.
With a lot of hesitation, I decided to embark upon this series, because of my fascination with the remake of the OJ Simpson trial. Two days, 10 episodes and 10 hours of my life later, I can now tell you that Making A Murderer managed to catch my attention. However, before we go into any deep discussion on this very publicized trial, I want to make something very clear: Making A Murderer is one perspective of the Steven Avery trial, namely that of Steven Avery. This show has the option to show, highlight and emphasis an angle and every angle that supports the position of Avery. As such, the show also has the option to downplay and exclude any aspects of the case that does not offer any support to the narrative of Avery as a wrongly accused murderer. With that said, this documentary is unquestionably an advocate for the release of Avery and his nephew Dassey. Even to the point of biasedness. So if you decide to watch this show for the first time as I did, then remember: There are two sides to every coin. And Making A Murderer is all about framing it the right way.
Framing is just what the prosecutor and DA Ken Kratz in Avery and Dassey’s case did. With few physical evidence, a weak and definitely manipulated confession from Dassey and questionable approach towards the case by the county police (all as portrayed by MAM), Kratz told a narrative that warranted Avery and Dassey a lifetime in prison. However, the narrative of Avery’s defender was to turn the tables around, as to question the code of conduct of all parties involved, especially the police, and upstage their involvement in the process. These conflicting narratives were undeniably the reason why I binged my way through the show’s 10 episodes. The questions kept piling up: Did Avery do it? What was the role of Dassey? Did the county police have something to do with it? And who really killed Halbach?
Due to the lengthy episodes, the series has the time to portray most of the key players in this trial and criminal investigation. And while everyone probably has an opinion about Mr. Avery, he is not the person on my mind after finishing the last episode – the 17 year old Brandon is. I think his public defender said it best in his closing argument: “Brandon didn’t choice his family.” Being dumped in a bad situation, this boy never stood a chance against the legal system… Being that intellectually limited, how could any word that came out of his mouth have been used against him? And without representation? My heart breaks for this boy, who simply seems to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Because I simply cannot imagine him doing what he confessed to. So well played, Making A Murderer, for getting me emotionally invested in the documentary.
Besides Brandon, this show also offers compassion to another victim of this terrible situation – Steven’s mother. This woman has lost everything when her son was taken away from her the first time around – wrongly convicted. To have this happen to her once over is devastating to see regardless of Steven’s innocence or not. While she doesn’t show it, while her house is a mess, while she doesn’t fit into society’s norms of a respectable person, she is a mother, who once again lost her son. So the fact that Making A Murderer included her statements as much as it did brought out the family bonds we all can relate to, which was a brilliant way to go.
Despite of Brandon and Steven’s mother, this show also offers many characters of the evil villain. Brandon’s mother, who is going back and forth between perceiving her son and brother as innocent and guilty (while screaming the whole damn time), Brandon’s cousin, who either lied on the stand or lied to the police, DA Kratz, who is just plain mean, Brandon’s interrogators, Brandon’s public defender… The list simply goes on and on, but no person is portrayed as annoying as Mike Halbach – the victim’s brother. Throughout the episodes, he appears in the media to comment on the ongoing case. And from a strictly Making A Murderer point of view, I wish he would just keep his mouth shut. His endless statements and you-so-did-it-Avery and you-so-did-it-Dassey attitude makes me unsympathetic to the true victim in all this, namely Teresa Halbach. Have everybody forgot her? So get out of the spotlight, so that you sister can get the attention she deserves.
Whether or not Avery did what he is convicted of doing, I don’t know and won’t even guess. I simply know through Making A Murderer that there is something fishy about this case. And the possibility of something fishy is what makes this documentary worth watching. So if you haven’t already, be sure to.