Review: Making a Murderer (Netflix)

Posted January 28, 2016 by Felicia S in TV Review / 27 Comments


TV Review

This year I am balancing my life out a bit by including more TV, Movies, Gaming, and not just books. These will be the reviews of some of the things I am watching (TV or Movies). I don’t have cable so all of these will come either through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Movie Theater, or Roku channels.



I streamed Making a Murderer on December 19th 2015 (Netflix knows me well! I will pretty much watch anything crime related so it was first on my “Recommended for Felicia” list). It was my birthday weekend and I was doing what I wanted which meant binge watching shows. I remember when I finished being pissed off, left with lots of questions, and thinking there has to be more to the story. Also why haven’t my friends watched it yet? Yes I know it dropped on the 18th but come on people. So I started recommending this to people and yes mostly so I could discuss it. I would warn them: “Prepared to gasp, shake your fist, be sad, and a little disappointed”.  They would ask: What do you mean “disappointed”?  I would just say talk to me afterwards but if YOU want to know why click on the spoiler.

View Spoiler »

First thing I am always asked:

Do you think Steve Avery is guilty? I don’t know. I don’t think he gets a free pass because he was wrongly convicted once. However, I do think he deserved a far better trial.

I have watched this twice now (I re-watched this past weekend since I wanted to revisit certain sections). I was no less pissed off the 2nd time but not really about Steven Avery. The whole thing rubbed me wrong. If he is guilty, people will always question it because the gross mishandling of everything from investigation to Judge’s rulings. If he is innocent, then how much tax payers money (I don’t live in the state but my parents did for a time) went to all the things that surrounded this mess. At the very least (because as I said I don’t know how I feel on the guilt/innocence), two wrongs don’t make a right. So even if he is guilty, what is being done about the blatant and  almost criminal acts of those surrounding the case. I am not talking the “supposed planting of evidence”, I am talking more the handling of Brendan Dassey. The clear inexcusable behavior of the handling of this clearly developmentally challenged boy who deserved, at the very least, to have representation (and not that idiot he had) at every stage of this investigation.

In other words: I am sure that his nephew deserves way better AND someone to watch out for HIS best interest. As pissed off as I was at the actions of the Judge, the handling of the case, and the seemingly “I made up my mind” attitude– it really was the treatment, handling, and obvious manipulation of Brendan Dassey that pissed me off.  Steven Avery had been through it once. I am sort of pissed off at him for not demanding that Brendan be better represented. If not for his nephew, then for his own freaking skin. About the only person who appeared to have Brendan’s back was his mom and that poor woman was swimming upstream with no clue of direction. As much as we would like to think children are adults, in this case it was obvious that Brendan is operating from behind the curve and really just wanted to please whomever he was talking too. Who knows what parts of his story were real or just something he said to please the person in front him. He needed someone that would get him with a therapist–someone who knew how to wade through things till the truth came out. The railroading of this boy got my heckles up.

Do I think this was good from a documentary POV?

I thought the pacing was off but it was compelling subject matter. It was about 2 episodes too long. In fact, on re-watch I did a lot of fast forwarding through the parts that were either duplicated and/or just flat out boring. That being said, kudos to the film makers for having the patience and tenacity to follow something like this for so many years. You could really tell they cared about their subject matter.


About Making a Murderer (from wikipedia):

Making a Murderer details the life of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man whose family owned an auto salvage yard in Manitowoc County. In 1985, Avery was arrested and convicted of the sexual assault of Penny Beerntsen, despite having numerous alibis. After serving 18 years in prison, Avery was exonerated with the aid of the Innocence Project, when the DNA in the case was matched to another man guilty of crimes in the area. After Avery was released from prison in 2003, he filed a $36 million civil lawsuit against Manitowoc County and several county officials associated with his first arrest. Soon after filing the lawsuit, he was accused of the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer who was last seen on the Avery family property to photograph a minivan for sale.

Making a Murderer explores issues and procedures in the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department that led to Avery’s original conviction. It suggests the county officials had a conflict of interest in participating in the investigation of Halbach’s murder. Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew, was also accused and convicted as an accomplice in the murder. The series depicts his trial as well.




Felicia S
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27 responses to “Review: Making a Murderer (Netflix)

  1. Oh man, Felicia. I discovered Making a Murderer back in December and binge watched it with the boyfriend (who normally doesn’t like crime shows, but got hooked on this). You have some excellent points about the documentary (I know I wondered while watching the first time what kind of bias the documentary makers had, and that without any focus on the actual murder investigation and Theresa’s life, we don’t really have a complete picture of what happened), and now I want to watch the whole thing over again. So thanks for that. 😉

  2. I’ve just subscribed to Netflix in the last week and was looking for recommendations so your post came at just the right time. I’m binging on ‘Jane the Virgin’ at the moment but want something a little more serious to balance it out.

  3. I have heard about this, but haven’t watched this yet. It sounds like it is thought provoking and something that stirs up controversy. I will have to try and check it out soon.

  4. Well, crap… I think I’m the only living soul on Earth who doesn’t have Netflix. But it sounds like small town justice gone horribly wrong. I could totally see it happening, having lived in a small town of 300 people with the closest town having 2000 people – this was in rural Maine. The closest city was Bangor, 2 hours away. Sad… and I’d be totally pissed, too!!!

    I love that you’re doing these reviews!! I can’t wait to see what games you’re playing now, too!!!

    (btw. I’m sick today and not posting the rest of the week – blech 😛 )

    • Oh I am so sorry you are sick. That was me last week!!!!!!!!

      I am having fun with these. Mostly cause I watch the weirdest stuff. 🙂 🙂

      I haven’t been gaming much this year but that will change in Feb when I have some down time 🙂

  5. Well crap Felicia, now I need to watch this…sadly I do know that guilty or not guilty those with money, education and good representation have a far better trial and that many guilty walk away. I will probably get fired up, but will add it to my Netflix list.

    • Yep it really is one of those things that pretty much run wild. Ethan Couch (here in DFW) is a perfect example. How does one even get off for suffering “affluenza” 🙂

  6. I haven’t watched this yet but I always feel weird about crime documentaries. We’re presented evidence but it’s never the whole picture – everyone has an angle they’re coming from.

    It sounds like it uncovered a lot of problems with the criminal justice system but it makes me uneasy when people demand a pardon based on one documentary. We think we now *know* the whole story now.

    Again, I haven’t watched it, I’m just going from what I’ve seen and heard. I did watch a few shows rebutting the documentary and interviews with the docu filmmakers. It didn’t appear that they were trying to say anything about Avery’s guilt or innocence – just a comment on our system.

    But it did get everyone fired up and if it helps start a conversation or make changes then that’s all good IMO.

    • This was one-sided and I am not sure he is innocent. The parts I think people are mad about (well at least most of the people I know) are more the issues with the investigation and handling of his nephew (who was clearly learning challenged).

      Though with as much footage there was, I think all parties involved would do good with a new trial removed from the area. Though I don’t know that it would happen.

  7. Oh Felicia do I have some feelings on this!!! I’ll start off by saying that I’m unsure if Avery’s guilt but I do know that it is the prosecutions job to proof guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and I don’t feel they did that.

    There is so much WTFery going on with this that it makes you really stop and think. Why was it legal to have Brendan Dassey interrogated without an adult present? How could they legally use his confession to convict him when they had literally just convicted Avery by saying she was murdered in the garage? According to Brendan everything happened in the bedroom with not an iota of forensic evidence to prove it.

    Why were Manitowac officers inspecting the house? They should have only been there to assist when the original county couldn’t do the job that needed done. How was any of that evidence admissible in court? How can the prosecution claim that Avery’s below average intelligence is why Avery didn’t use the car crusher on the property to destroy evidence but is enough of a criminal mastermind to clean up so much forensic evidence?

    Why did the judge think it was NOT important to find out who was deleting voicemails from Theresa’s cell phone? Why did her brother during the first press conference say “when we find her body” instead of just “when we find her” which was shortly after she was declared missing?

    Are you going to watch the rebuttal on Discovery ID on Saturday? We don’t have cable but I’m hoping to get to my sister-in-law’s to watch it. She’s deep in it too.

  8. I came away from this documentary really angry about the treatment of Brendan, which I think is how most people felt. Even his mom, as much as she had his back, just didn’t have the education or knowledge to really help him. It was so clear that this kid was just making stuff up with no idea how he was effecting his entire life.
    As for Steven, I sort of came away thinking he’d been framed for something he did. There was so much about this entire town and the way the entire police department and DA’s office and everyone just zeroed in on him, and there was so much that was shady about the evidence they kept finding, from Teresa’s keys to her car, to everything, that was shady. But I still had the impression that Steven did kill Teresa. Obviously not the way Brendan claimed it happened, but somehow.
    This whole thing was so disturbing to watch. But you’re right that it dragged in places, too. Each episode could have been about 15 minutes shorter. Or they could have kept them the same length and put in more information. They just got repetitive.
    I would have liked a little more follow up with the original rape victim as well. How does she deal with knowing she was railroaded into identifying the wrong man? With knowing that the actual rapist was raping other women while Steven was locked up?
    I do love crime documentaries like this. I don’t think I watch them as often as you do. but I tend to get obsessed with them when I do.

    • YES! I am a little obsessed with them 🙂

      This whole thing was a huge WTF from all sides!!!!! I am still unsure where I fall with any of it. I don’t think he is innocent but nothing presented pushed me beyond a reasonable doubt either.

  9. Yeah, I have no idea if Steven Avery is guilty. I’ve read some of the trial transcripts and looked at the evidence used in the trial… and I’m still unsure. The Manitowac police just had too much at stake not to be tempted to plant evidence, and it was always their officers who found “crucial” items.

    I completely agree that Teresa Halbach was under-represented in the documentary, because I felt like she was the type of person I would have been friends with. As for the victim of the rape, I would have liked to focus on how she felt, having been manipulated by the police into falsely identifying Steven Avery. How their witch hunt allowed the true rapist to attack again.

    But what really made me angry was how Brendan Dassey was handled. I felt for his poor mother, her head was spinning and the cops were messing with her, and poor Brendan didn’t have a clue. Like, at all. And that investigator for the his first defense attorney? I was a total rageball any time he came on screen.

    I think this documentary really shows the difference between the haves and have nots. The Averys and the Dasseys, despite their past experience with police, had no clue how to handle a second encounter. It was hard to watch in parts. And I felt the judge was very biased against the defense, which is normally the opposite of what you see in trials.