Okay that is a lie, what I really want for Christmas is lots of money and a job, or just lots of money. Or if I can’t get either of those at the very least I want a new Roku because I finally broke up with Comcast (it’s Facebook official) and my original Roku is eight years old which is like twelve hundred years in the tech world. But enough about me, no matter what device you stream on you need to start streaming Netflix’s Making a Murderer ASAP. Like you should start as soon as the last present is opened or the first time someone starts talking politics.
Steven Avery was convicted and served eighteen years for a violent rape that he did not commit. Barely two years after he was released (in the midst of suing the sheriff’s department that pretty much framed him for the rape), he is arrested for the horrific murder of a young photographer named Teresa Halbach. Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey is also arrested and the episodes that focus on Brendan’s story are some of the hardest to watch. I had to hide my remote on more than one occasion lest I throw it at the tv because then I would only have three left.
If you have ever watched any of the Paradise Lost movies about the West Memphis Three you will see some alarming parallels, the small town prejudices against people considered “different”, inept cops, prosecutors and judges with let’s just say questionable ethics, only the accents are different and let me tell you, the next time someone from Wisconsin thinks the accents in Fargo are spot on Minnesotan I will direct them to watch this series. (FYI: subtitles are an option on Netflix)
Steven Avery has an IQ of 70, Brendan Dassey has the mental capacity of a fourth-grader. The intelligence gene is not so prevalent in the Avery family a fact that is hammered home when Brendan asks his mother Barb (Steven’s sister) what the word inconsistencies means and she can’t answer him. (BTW, Barb is the smart one.) But what she may lack in vocabulary skills she more than makes up for in moxie as she fights for her child the best she can in a monumental and totally uphill battle against the system. Brendan is like a lost little pound puppy who given the slightest bit of attention will follow you anywhere and do anything you want, a trait the cops exploit much to his detriment.
I binged watched this over three days, and three days later I am still thinking about it. The criminal justice system in this country is beyond broken, the poor and the uneducated have the deck set against them from the get-go. They don’t get good legal representation unless they are very lucky, like Powerball lucky and we all know how bad those odds are. The fact that so many of them are wrongfully convicted, as Steven was in the rape case,further proves the point.
There are so many loathsome characters in this series it is hard to pick the worst, is it the cops who illegally interrogate a developmentally disabled minor without representation or a responsible adult present? (Given the fact that Brendan’s first lawyer appears to have gotten his law degree by mail he probably wouldn’t have helped much.) Is it the high-talking sexting special prosecutor who sexually harasses domestic abuse victims for fun? Or is it the straight out of central casting Dateline producer who gleefully says murder is “hot right now”, like she was talking about shoes? Ugh, they are all so equally awful it is impossible to choose.
Even after ten hours there were many things I was still dying to know, like why did so many people in power in Manitowoc dislike the Avery’s so much? What happened to Steven’s children? Why did Brendan’s brother Bobby lie on the stand? I found the victim’s ex-boyfriend and roommate shady AF. I don’t have a roommate (other than the fur-wearing ones) but I am pretty sure one of them would have figured out how to use the phone if I did not come home for days. I mean the litter boxes don’t clean themselves you know.
The whole time I was watching this, the catchy little theme song from Cheers kept popping up in my head. And while a place where everybody knows your name might seem like a great idea when it comes to a bar and/or a sitcom it does not seem very appealing when it comes to real life in a small town. Especially if that name is Avery.