True Crime community, it’s our time. After waiting years (and Netflix episodes) it’s finally happening; the owl theory is getting the airtime it deserves. For those of you who haven’t rabidly followed The Staircase/Michael Peterson case, the owl theory posits as owl attacked Kathleen Peterson. Not as farfetched as it may seem, seeing that owls are basically feathered assassins. This week’s episode of HBO’s The Staircase (a true crime drama, based on a true crime docuseries of the same name) finally presents the owl theory, and with the respect it deserves!
In honor of this momentous occasion, I’m sharing a few of my favorite true crime documentaries, so enjoy. Ok, “enjoy” feel icky when talking about true crime, so just here they are…
The Staricase, Netflix
This is why we’re here, so we can’t start the list any other way. At first glance you might think 13 episodes is a lot, too many even, but you would be wrong. As previously mentioned, they don’t even get into the owl theory! Anyhoo, The Staircase covers the death of Kathleen Peterson, the prosecution of her husband Michael for her murder, and the years (and years and years) after. The filmmakers were on the case from almost day one, and given unprecedented access to the defense team and the Peterson family (maybe a little too much access if you know what I mean). I feel like Stefon here, but this documentary has EVERYTHING; twists and turns, a kooky first wife, missing evidence, a charming male escort, more crimes, a prosecutor who shouts “BIII-SECK-SUAL”, and more!
There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane, Apple TV, HBO Max
This is the OG for me. I had always watched Dateline, 20/20, and 48 Hours; but Aunt Diane was the first full length true crime documentary I can remember watching. The film follows some of the family of Diane Schuler, who infamously drove a car full of the children the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway and crashed into oncoming traffic. It’s a fascinating (and often less than flattering) look into what our brains will let us believe. Diane’s family has to believe something went wrong, or else they all stood silently by while she whipped around town drunk and high.
Capturing The Friedmans, HBO Max, HULU
It’s downright shocking to me that more people haven’t watched this 2003 documentary, so I’m on a mission to change that. Capturing The Friedmans started out as a film focusing on older brother David Friedman, aka Silly Billy the most successful clown in New York. Silly Billy entertained at children’s parties for the likes of Madonna, Susan Sarandon, and Bruce Springsteen, but when filmmaker Andrew Jarecki did a little digging, he realized the real story was Silly Billy’s family. Father and brother Arnold and Jesse Friedman were accused of some pretty horrific sexual abuse by former students of Arnold. This family is DYSFUNCTOINAL. They took a shocking amount of home movies, mostly weird skit-like performances, while all this was going on; and whatever you think the family is actually guilty, we can all agree they’re strange as hell.
Abducted In Plain Site, Netflix
Much like JC Chasez deserved the solo career Justin Timberlake got, Abducted In Plain Site deserved to permeate the collective pop culture conscious like Tiger King did. Guys I honestly don’t even know where to start here. Abducted In Plain Site tells the story of 12-year-old Jan Broberg; she basically keeps getting kidnapped by her neighbor, and her parents keep letting him do it. This is not a knee-jerk, blame the parents reaction. Her family was basically like, “here take my tween daughter, take her as often as you’d like”. I don’t want to spoil all the bizarre twists and turns for you, but I will say adult Jan wrote a book about the incident (many, many incidents really) and left out, for those of us who have watched the documentary, the most memorable part.
The Inventor, HBO Max, HULU
Like most of America, I went through an Elizabeth Holmes obsession. I read the book, watched the HBO doc, and most recently the HULU series. Now no shade to the book or the HULU series which are both excellent, but the HBO doc is my favorite. There’s just something about seeing that alien in a skin suit with your own eyes, ya know? We all know the story, so I’m going to tell you to watch The Inventor if for nothing else, to see Elizabeth Holmes dance. Also, everyone they interview is WILD. You’re welcome.
Friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It was really hard to pick just a few true crime documentaries to highlight, so if you’d like more, I can always do a part 2. And I’m always looking for something to watch, so please feel free to share any of your true crime picks!
As I was finishing this piece up my dear friend Nicole Russo dropped a bomb on me. Michael Peterson’s first wife recently died, suffered a fatal heart attack while she was with Michael…and the son Todd (aka the hot brother) claims she was having a heart attack for 3 hours and Michael didn’t call 911. Todd called for help and performed CPR when he got to the house, but it was too late. He talks about it here in this video, and he also says he believes Michael killed Liz and Kathleen as well. My DMs are open if anyone wants to discuss because it’s all I can talk about now.