You may well be among the large group of people who, since Christmastime, has been inundated with raves, opinions and theories from friends and family about the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer. Or, you yourself may be one of those people who has become addicted to the true crime series, which was filmed over 10 years and follows the story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who served 18 years in prison for the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen, and who was exonerated in 2003. Avery was then arrested in 2005, and convicted in 2007, of the murder of Teresa Halbach.
Viewers have been riveted by Making a Murderer, with many believing in Avery’s innocence to the point that a petition with over 100,000 signatures was submitted to the White House asking President Obama to pardon Avery (Obama responded that he cannot act in a state case). Others maintained their belief that Avery is guilty. There was also controversy surrounding the film about elements and evidence that were omitted.
At this morning’s Netflix executive panel at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour, chief content officer Ted Sarandos, in a scrum of reporters following his session, was asked about his reaction to the success of Making a Murderer, and its controversy.
“It was a remarkable turn of events in the last couple of weeks of the year,” Sarandos said, “where I think that it was that crazy combination of super-addictive television and time to watch it. So people were watching it, and then telling their friends who also had time to watch it during the holiday break, and people were just obsessed with it. I think there must be something genetic in us that we’re like natural-born detectives, and we love to watch these shows. And that’s what it brought out in everybody. It’s a sense of injustice, and certainly a sense of mystery.”
Regarding the controversy about things that may have been omitted by the filmmakers, Sarandos responded, “This film is 10 years in the making, there’s over 700 hours of footage. To split hairs over what was left in or what was left out — it’s a great film, and we want people to watch and decide for themselves.”
Asked about a Season 2 of Making a Murderer, Sarandos couldn’t comment, because “it’s just unfolding.”
This installment itself was a long time coming, as Sarandos explained. “This film, when it came to us a little over three years ago, it was already seven years in the making, and the filmmakers have lived this thing for 10 years. I think that’s what plays out on screen.”