My wife and I interrupted our binge-watching of Mr. Robot to binge-watch this ten-part docu-series released by Netflix on 12/18. It mainly centers around the criminal trial of Steven Avery, a Manitowoc County, Wisconsin man who was arrested for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach two years after being exonerated (and released from prison after 18 years) of a 1985 rape charge. I kinda look at it overall as a bizarre, real-life “Fargo” story (where “this is a true story” actually holds, well, true).
This thing is comprehensive. There’s a lot of material crammed into ten episodes. And it could’ve used a lot more. It’s certainly one-sided, in that it tries to connect a personal beef between Avery and the Manitowoc County police to the wrongful 1985 rape conviction. Then, it tries to paint Avery’s subsequent lawsuit against the county as the motive for the police to frame Avery for Halbach’s murder. When the series focused on the Avery murder trial, we see that Avery’s badass defense attorneys are seemingly creating real reasonable doubt without major setbacks. It all leads you to think that the only logical outcome is acquittal, and that makes the eventual guilty verdict and life imprisonment sentence sting harder.
The series is clearly meant to enrage the viewer, and I admit that at times I wanted the entire state of Wisconsin to sink into Lake Michigan, even after the first episode. I’m not going to be one of those people who say that Avery should be pardoned, but police misconduct was apparent and I wanted to punch every smug cop, detective and prosecutor in the face (but those reactions are a result of the way the filmmakers presented their story).
The biggest injustice (again, this reaction is based on the filmmakers’ presentation of the facts) was the denial of a new trial for Steve’s nephew Brendan Dassey, who was convicted as an accomplice, and whose original defense attorney was only interested in getting Brendan to plead guilty and have him testify against his uncle. Dassey is painted as not-too-bright and easily suggestible, and his confession to helping Avery was most likely coerced. He had a kind of “Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear” moment where he held up extremely well under cross-examination at his own trial, explaining that he made up the details of the confession and really pissing off the prosecutors.
Just finished, yesterday. Very engaging and intriguing series. The Avery story has been blowing up and getting all kinds of publicity, now. This is either a Good Thing or a Bad Thing, relating to the power of Netflix.
If he's innocent and this series helps him get out... that's a huge victory for film making. A film (series) that actually gets people active and involved in a cause.
Some info online (wikipedia)that opened my eyes a bit:
In 1985, Avery was charged with assaulting his cousin, the wife of a part-time Manitowoc County sheriff's deputy, possessing a firearm as a felon, and the rape of a Manitowoc woman, Penny Beernsten, for which he was later exonerated. He served six years for assaulting his cousin and illegally possessing firearms, and 18 years for the assault, sexual assault, and attempted rape he did not commit/
The assault and rape are different. The assault mentions a cousin who was married to a Manitowoc County deputy?!! I'm wondering if that's where the personal animosity between Avery and Manitowoc County started. Throughout the series, I kept waiting for some past personal connection between the two to come to light. We kept wondering: "did he impregnate the Sheriff's daughter or something".
Only part that made me chuckle (then almost cry) was hearing Brendan's phone call after he was arrested in 2006. "Hope I'll be home by April 10. That's when WrestleMania is". Honestly, if I was in jail at 16, I would've said something similar (albeit in a more joking manner). Really felt sorry for the guy, at that point.
Could talk about and debate this forever. It'll be very interesting to see what happens in the next few months.
I believe the very first episode they talked about him running his cousin out of the room and threatening her with a gun and getting busted for it. After they get a description for the rapist, the person doing the interview with the victim (who was a friend of his cousin) kind of suggested that Steven Avery matched that description. Best line was when they said the victim said her attacker wore white underwear and Mr. Avery doesn't own any underwear. LOL
I messed up by Google-ing if this was real since the opening credits says "written and directed by" so and so and Google said they were both still in jail so I knew the verdict before I finished watching it.
Mr Shh, I should have known you'd be the one to bring this show up. And to call it a real-life Fargo, too! (I was thinking the same thing while watching - that I wish this was a fictionalized season of Fargo instead of a very real murder of a very real woman.)
My wife and I finally got around to listening to Serial just before Christmas, and so to find this so suddenly has been a bit of a one-two punch. That said, at least Serial gave the impression of someone looking for the truth, so it was easy to go on the journey with Koenig and struggle with the facts along with her. MaM, however, definitely felt like it had an agenda, and it was hard to balance that against what it wasn't showing us.
That said, I wonder if this should be the way we handle trials going forward. Let the defense and prosecution argue, as they do now, in front of a camera, and then each side gets to give the footage to a documentary filmmaker who can make a presentation for either side.
As far as whether this was a miscarriage of justice... I have to assume that there's something that everyone knows that we don't. When the Innocence Project won't even take up your cause... There must be something damning about Avery that wasn't portrayed properly.
And yeah, my heart broke when Brendan wanted to get home for Wrestlemania. Everytime some angelic defense attorney took his case to the court, it seemed like they should be able to at least get him a retrial based on that coerced interview, and yet nothing. Again, all I can do is assume there is something that I'm missing.
I know (hope?) these cases are outliers, but between this and Serial... Its easy to get concerned about the effectiveness of our Justice System.
Originally posted by EddieBurkettMr Shh, I should have known you'd be the one to bring this show up. And to call it a real-life Fargo, too! (I was thinking the same thing while watching - that I wish this was a fictionalized season of Fargo instead of a very real murder of a very real woman.)
Try to tell me the show's opening theme wasn't lifted directly from the Fargo Season 1 soundtrack. :-)
You mentioned agenda, and I definitely agree with that. I wonder if part of that was to make Teresa's brother look fishy, or if I made that leap on my own.
Binge-watched this during the weekend and have been trying to wrap my brain around it.
It isn't about whether or not Avery is guilty. It's whether he received a fair trial. I don't care about Steven Avery as a person (SPOILER: he's terrible), and the documentary makes his nephew out to be the sympathetic figure more than anyone.
The conviction of the nephew in particular sticks out as wrong when, unless I'm missing something, there's no actual physical evidence that he did anything.
I think the documentary, at the very least, lays out a good case that Sheriff's department stepped outside of their boundaries in ways that significantly effected the investigation, and it's baffling how the nephew could have been convicted with that much certainty when there's no signs of the events having occurred the way "he said" they did.
I watched the first episode and it was a very large indictment on the local police force. It also didn't help that the state seemed to be backing their play even after their own investigators found a lot of problems with the original rape case. You have to think that these people are going to face major backlash now if they are still alive.
I may try to continue, but when I see and hear it only gets worse then I am not sure. It was very engaging. While I agree there seems to be a bit of biased, most documentaries are. It also doesn't help the authorities' case in the public area that they already falsely accused him and placed him in prison for 18 years. No matter what Nancy Grace says after the first episode, you can easily see that law enforcement in regards to Steven Avery is more biased than this documentary.
It kills me when people say big government is the greatest threat to America. The real problem is local authorities who rule like little kings and queens. This is a major problem in America where we feel that, because we sorta know these people or see them in public, they are good people. That is a very bad fallacy. There is also very few ways to get rid of these people minus elections that happen every so often without much fanfare.
What's interesting is that many people in Wisconsin, who lived through it and saw things through the Wisconsin media, are just as convinced of guilt as the people who only watched the Netflix doc and are convinced of the corruption in the Sheriff's department.
Just a little objective evidence of guilt, and of the product on Netflix.
This is a poor article. Every one of these things is addressed except for the phone calls.
I will say this. I don't think anyone can actually know if Avery committed this crime, but if he did, it had nothing to do with anything presented at the trial, because literally none of the evidence matches up at all.
If you want to tell me Avery knocked her upside her head, drove her to a remote location, killed her, whatever, ok, fine. But she obviously wasn't cut up or chained or killed in that house or that garage.