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Are You Addicted to Netflix’s True Crime Documentary, ‘The Staircase’? Well You Should Be

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It’s been almost 20 years after journalist and crime novelist, Michael Peterson, went to trial for the murder of his wife, Kathleen. The case continues to resonate with true-crime fans who lately can’t get enough of the Netflix show, The Staircase, which debuted June 8 and intimately documents the case.

Despite more than ten hours it takes to get through the series, the 13-episode show has received a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes and fans have taken to social media, describing it as the latest must-see crime drama.

Fans say those considering the series shouldn’t be intimidated by the long hours it’ll take to get through all the episodes. In fact, part of the appeal of the series is that it shows how slow the wheels of justice turn while examining the odd twists the case took before the controversial outcome 17 years later.

But, most appealingly, is that at no time do the creators of the show try to convince viewers of Peterson’s guilt or innocence. In fact, when looking at the facts of the case, it’s no wonder his own family is divided about it to this day. ***Warning, spoilers ahead ***

Perfect Murder Or Frame Up?

On its face, the Peterson case could look like any typical murder plot story were police point fingers at the husband, whom investigators said bludgeoned Kathleen Peterson to death in 2001 and tried to make it appear as if she fell down the stairs.

Metro

Prosecutors pointed to Peterson being a bisexual and having affairs that they believe triggered an argument between him and his wife the night she died. They pointed to the fact that a family friend had died similarly decades before— with Peterson being the last one to see her alive. They even referred to his violent fiction writing as inspiration for the crime.

But, the case is not open-and-shut. Throughout the documentary, viewers are shown how Peterson had written columns in the local newspaper that were critical of police and the district attorney, leading to claims of bias. Later, a blood spatter analyst in the case was fired for falsely representing evidence along with the discovery that much of the evidence from 2001 had been contaminated and that Kathleen’s clothes had never been DNA-tested.

There’s even an odd (although rarely touched on) theory that an owl attacked Peterson’s wife and caused her death. Animal experts would later say it’s highly likely that was the case.

It’s no wonder the director, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, would become obsessed with Peterson’s case. But, his original plans were not to create a true-crime series.

Making Of A Murder Documentary

De Lestrade debuted the series in 2004 with eight episodes following Peterson, his family, and the defense team as they prepared for court and went through the murder trial. Filming for the series began shortly after Peterson was indicted. What was supposed to be a two-hour documentary turned into an epic 13-episode arc. Netflix bought the original 10 episodes, along with three new ones.

Vulture

Two more episodes aired in 2013 after new information reignited the Peterson case, with the final three episodes being released just this year. Despite spending almost two decades with Peterson, de Lestrade has doubts about the case.

Peterson’s Strange, Complex Character

Like many viewers, de Lestrade himself said he’s not certain about Peterson’s innocence to this day.

Movie Magic

“Michael Peterson himself is a very strange, very complex character,” de Lestrade told TIME, “Of course, the man I spent many days, weeks, months and years with— the man I know, it’s like it’s not possible that he’s capable of killing someone in that way. But, human beings are so strange and you never know.”

Think you can figure out the case? Check out the trailer below and then watch the show for yourself:

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