Making a Murderer, Erasing a Victim

We are seeing the stories of victims being reframed in culture. “The Five” by Hallie Rubenhold is an upcoming book revealing the untold lives of women living in Victorian London: Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine, and Mary-Jane. Mischaracterised in the media as ‘fallen women’, the true stories of Jack the Ripper’s five victims have – until now – never been told in depth.

Mrs Hinch
OthelloMacbeth (Source: Lyric Hammersmith)

This is a theme that’s unfolding across society. From the Lyric Hammersmith, “OthelloMacbeth” is Jude Christian’s radical new take on two of Shakespeare’s most explosive plays. A number of powerful female voices – including Lady Macbeth and Desdemona – come right to the fore. And in the world of politics, women such as Monica Lewinsky reflect this movement. In September, after being asked about her relationship with President Bill Clinton (nearly 20 years ago), Lewinsky walked out of an interview with Yonit Levi in protest – reclaiming her right to tell her own story.

Mrs Hinch
Monica Lewinsky

But while the lives and experiences of victims are seen in a new light in some parts of culture, it’s not happening across the board.

Making a Murderer Season 2 (Source: Netflix)

The second season of hit Netflix show “Making a Murderer” is upon us. The wildly-popular first season told the story of Wisconsin-born Steven Avery, unpicking and investigating Avery’s conviction for murder with the aim of proving his innocence. And now, the long-anticipated second season has been front and center of Netflix’s bill. Avery is the face of this near-ubiquitous ad campaign. Wall-to-ceiling posters state defiantly “The conviction was only the beginning” – with Avery staring directly down the lens. But we wonder why the victim isn’t given a bigger role here. Throughout much of the show itself, and the communications surrounding it, Theresa Halbach is a secondary figure. While she is often referenced, the prominence of her experience as the victim seems downplayed. It could be easy to view Halbach as merely a character in Steven Avery’s story.

At a time when the ‘Me Too’ movement has created space for the voices of female victims in society, the narrative of one of Netflix’s most anticipated shows seems somewhat out of step.

Find out more about our Human & Cultural Insights

Kantar Consulting’s experts explore the interplay of culture and human experience, and what this means for brands. Click below to see how we can help you unlock growth by creating greater relevance, meaning and shareability in people’s lives and in culture

Contact Us to Unlock Growth