Making a Murderer has all but taken over the Internet in the last fortnight, as Netflix’s true crime documentary continues to rile viewers.
The series, which was released on Netflix worldwide just before Christmas, swiftly became the must-watch show of the season, with its tale of Steven Avery shocking, angering and upsetting audiences.
The 10-part documentary explains how the Wisconsin man was sent to prison in 1985 for sexual assault and attempted murder – only for DNA evidence to prove his innocence and eventually prompt his release in 2003.
That release triggered major criminal justice reform legislation, and he filed a lawsuit that threatened to expose corruption in local law enforcement and award him millions of dollars.
But only two years later, in the midst of his very public civil case, he found himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime. He again protested his innocence.
Inspired by a newspaper article about Avery from 2005, directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos spent 10 years filming their series, which raises harrowing questions about police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering and witness coercion. Now, fans of the show have felt similarly inspired, with two separate petitions now online to call for justice for Avery.
“I am outraged with the injustices which have been allowed to compound and left unchecked in the case of Steven Avery of Manitowoc County in Wisconsin, U.S.A,” says the petition on Change.org, which, at the time of writing, has 267,693 signatures. Another petition issued directly to the White House labels the events a “black mark on the justice system as a whole” and petitions for it to be “recognized as such”. That has 70,189 signatures, with only 29,811 more needed by 19th January to reach 100,000 – at which point the US government is required to respond. Together, the two petitions currently have over 337,000 signatures.
The mark of a successful documentary? People watching and talking about it. The mark of a groundbreaking documentary? People then taking action.
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Making a Murderer is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.