Why are People So Obsessed with “Making a Murderer”?

The Netflix murder mystery hit a huge nerve with viewers and spawned all kinds of fan theories.

  • Steven avery
  • It’s one month to the day since “Making a Murderer” hit Netflix, and people still can’t stop having intense arguments about whether convicted murderer Steven Avery is guilty or not. Public interest in this show is so huge that Netflix is reportedly considering a second season.

    There have been a lot of murder mystery stories in the past, so what is it about this one that has people so fascinated and horrified? Entertainment Weekly approached a few experts who suggest that the current political climate in America has something to do with it:

    “[These programs] reflect the rather dim and dark world we seem to live in,” opines Jeffrey McCall, professor of media studies at DePauw ­University. “Terrorism, inefficient government, crime waves, sluggish economy, and so forth are affecting the national mood. These crime stories fit into the national attitude at this time to reaffirm what audiences are feeling.”

    University of Nebraska professor Wheeler Winston Dixon says the updated format has a way of immersing viewers in the experience more than “Dateline” ever did.

    “With Serial, The Jinx, and Making a Murderer, the viewer is plunged into the real-life violence and fear that surrounds the events, and brought uncomfortably close to murders, rapes, and other horrific crimes,” continues Dixon. “The ‘it could happen to you’ aspect of these new shows, which are so firmly rooted in real life, makes viewing them, particularly in these trying times, a sort of escapist activity — so the viewer thinks, ‘This is happening to someone else, but it’s not happening to me,’ though it could. So the viewer can participate more directly in a real-life crime case, perhaps even identifying vicariously with the perpetrator, but without any real risk, safe in their armchair, viewing it on the tube.”

    Whatever the reason, the series has inspired all kinds of theories - some more convincing than others - about who really killed Teresa Halbach. Our host Shira Lazar takes us through the top five:

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