A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Making a Murderer is an episodic documentary about the well-publicized trials of convicted murderer Steven Avery. It focuses on criminal behavior and the flaws of the criminal justice system and, as a result, contains detailed descriptions of violent crimes, as well as explicit conversations about sexual behaviors (all in context). Some installments contain cursing ("s--t," "f--k"). The guilt and innocence of alleged criminals is presented as ambiguous and questionable, which could open up an interesting discussion with mature teens.
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What's the story?
MAKING A MURDERER is a documentary series that chronicles a Wisconsin man's fight for justice after being wrongfully convicted of rape and other crimes. The long-form documentary, which is divided into 10 episodes, chronicles the journey of Wisconsin native Steven Avery, who served 18 years for the attack on Penny Ann Beernsten before being exonerated by DNA evidence thanks to a Wisconsin Innocence Project investigation. But two years after his release, he was charged, and ultimately convicted, of murdering Teresa Haibach. With the help of audio and video recordings, archived news footage, and interviews with Avery, his family, alleged victims, attorneys, and others involved with the case, the process by which he was arrested, convicted, released, and convicted again is explored. The questions surrounding the legitimacy of all these events are also discussed.
Is it any good?
This compelling documentary offers close-up and extremely detailed stories that underscore the flaws of the criminal justice system that affected Stephen Avery. Though the question of his guilt or innocence is a theme, conspiracy theories that surround his crimes and trial cloud the minds of those involved and those of viewers. The roles that social class and economic factors played in his ability to mount a sufficient defense are also highlighted.
It's a complicated narrative, and thanks to the massive amount of recorded footage, records, and interviews introduced throughout, there are moments when it feels heavy and repetitive. The descriptions of violent crimes, evidence of hateful backlash, and the disintegration of the Avery family over a 30-year period is also difficult to navigate. Despite all this, it's very well done and well worth tuning into if it you can handle the subject matter.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the criminal justice system. How are mistakes made, even when everyone is doing his or her job? What is the impact, both on people wrongly convicted and on the system itself and people's faith it?
Documentaries are designed to present factual stories and details from a specific point of view. But is it possible to offer too much information? Is it necessary to include so many violent details to tell this story? Why, or why not?