Do true crime shows and docuseries affect ongoing cases?

Alison Clair

The obsession with true crime shows and documentaries has blown up in recent years. It’s a niche market for people who have a fascination with cold and ongoing crime cases. People are attracted to people, and what’s more interesting than learning about the most evil in our society. Evil has always fascinated people, and in recent years true crime has almost become a part of this generations popular culture.

This fascination with the ‘evil’ people in our society is wired in us. It all comes down to the simple theory: There is good versus evil in every society. You can’t have one without the other. People are intrigued by the nitty gritty facts of crime cases, because to any normal person, to commit these acts themselves is an alien thought.

The attraction towards watching these shows on ongoing cases allows the viewer to make up their own mind and come to their own conclusion. Almost making them feel like they’re the detective, or at least on the jury.

Making a murderer follows the case of Steven Avery who was fighting his ongoing court cases, for the murder of a photographer, all throughout the filming and premiere of the first season. This created a huge following whereby fans of the show were really getting behind Steven and were very vocal about trying to get his case appealed. In cases like this it can be argued that this kind of cult following a documentary like this creates can have a negative effect on the outcome of the trial, or even the trial process.

The Disappearance of Madeline McCann from her apartment in Portugal is another case that took the world by storm in 2007. This case has been covered extensively already in the media, with the case having multiple suspects. This documentary set out to prove that the little girl was in fact abducted from their apartment in Praia Da Luz that night. However this case is still ongoing and it has been argued that having such extensive media coverage and online “theories” on what has happened to Madeline has hindered the progress of the case.

Netflix have seen the obsession their viewers have with true crime documentaries and have fully jumped on the bandwagon. They have produced a number of Netflix Original shows, in many ways making this already over saturated market even more dense.

Yes, true crime documentaries offer an insight into the cases and the facts, but they also have created a trend of avid fans taking the law into their own hands. The perfect example of this is with the Steven Avery case whereby one of his prosecutors has had his car shot at, and packages explode in his office.

This reaction that true crime fanatics seem to be having, in order to defend the person in question is having a huge effect on not only how ongoing cases are being handled, but could quite possibly set precedent for how cases like these will be both handled and covered in the media from now on.

We need to find the balance between giving the people what they want, and not possibly being the cause for evidence or events to be discussed and divulged at length out in the open. A lot of the time, this type of reaction to true crime documentaries could in many cases change juries’ minds, and inevitably cause perpetrators to get away with their crimes.

Alison Clair
Image Credit: The NewDailyCmk