The Staircase fulfils the needs of those who crave murder mysteries and courtroom dramas akin to The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016) and Making a Murderer (2015-). Michael Peterson, a well-known novelist, is charged of murdering his wife, who was found dead at the bottom of their staircase amidst a pool of blood in 2001. The documentary television show follows Peterson’s trial in real time, with juicy real-life twists and turns. If you have no idea about the crime, I recommend watching it without researching for prior knowledge. It is a controversial case and it’s exciting to discover the twists in the case along with the characters. The show is from 2004, but has been re-released onto Netflix this year, bringing new audiences and hype to Peterson’s story.
Even though it is a documentary mini series filmed at the time of the trial, the people appear more like characters in a dramatic play. They are compelling, drawing emotion from their life stories during the show. The most interesting sections detail the happenings of the trial, from behind-the-scenes discussions of how the defence team erect their defence, to footage from studying what types of people to allow into the jury. Peterson himself recedes into the background as far as stimulating characters goes, with lawyer David Rudolf and adopted daughter Margaret Ratliff being much more compelling. Overall The Staircase is a fascinating watch and I would recommend it to anyone interested in courtroom dramas and murder shows.