Netflix’s latest binge has been making waves around the internet and for good reason. The Netflix Original documentary series announced in November and released in mid to late December followed the two court cases of Steven Avery. Spanning 10 episodes with each lasting an hour long it’s a a tough proposition but the payoff is fantastic.
It’s arguably one of the most detailed documentary series of its type following each intricate details of the case surrounding the suspected murderer. The first episode covers his dealing with the law up until the early 2000’s, uncovering additional evidence that showed he was innocent of the crimes against a woman in the 80’s. The documentary then presents the trial and other evidence all pointing towards the fact that he could have now been put away again when he could be innocent.
The show by its nature has caused some backlash already with the ‘scorching’ reviews left on the prosecutors Yelp page along with multiple petitions to the White House asking them to pardon Avery of his crimes. It’s been out for less than a month and it’s already causing a long lasting effect on the case.
But back to our original question, would the show have existed outside of Netflix? We seemingly think the answer is no. The problem with a program such as Making A Murderer is that from any angle, it can be controversial and with that reputations are on the line. Now given most TV networks rely on advertising revenue and their reputation has a direct link to their revenue, it would be a massive risk for them to undertake it. Netflix doesn’t have to worry about these negative effects to their bottom line as they’re funded by the subscribers.
That would leave us to the conclusion that only an ‘independent’ broadcaster would want to show it. We’re looking at your HBO’s, possibly your PBS or even stations abroad including the BBC.
In a NY Times article surrounding the production of the docu-series, that began in 2005, the shows creators go in-depth about who they were pitching. They noted that three years into production, they didn’t have a network to air on at all.
“Three years into production, they met with executives from HBO, PBS and various networks, but at the time, those networks lacked an appetite for such projects.”
They then took 3 episodes to Netflix in 2013 and that’s when they got the go-ahead and ultimately found a new home.
This wasn’t the first controversial subject that Netflix Original documentaries have covered and certainly won’t be the last. Just this year, Netflix released a documentary damming the government of Ukraine for attacking its own citizens in what started out as a peaceful protest. A few years prior Netflix notably won awards for its documentary called ‘The Square’.
What do you think? Where would Making A Murderer fit well in your opinion?