Yes Mare of Easttown It was the most popular addition to HBO Max in 2021 among thriller lovers, this year the platform already has a replacement. I’m talking about The Staircase, a series with all the ballots to be crowned as the sensation of the moment, not only because it brings together a luxury cast but, and above all, because it is a disturbing dramatization based on one of the most addictive and shocking real cases of the black chronicle.
However, despite the applause and praise it is receiving (criticism in general is showering it with praise), this magnificent series has a serious problem.
The Staircase is the dramatized version of the case of Michael Peterson, played by Colin Firth, a novelist who in late 2001 was accused of murdering his wife Kathleen after finding her bloodied and with head injuries at the bottom of the stairs. He always maintained his innocence, assuring that due to the consumption of alcohol and Valium, his wife would surely have fallen down the steps of the house. However, the autopsy revealed that Kathleen had sustained severe head injuries, consistent with beatings from some type of hard object, dying of blood loss between ninety minutes and two hours after sustaining the injuries. As she was the only person in the house that night and as there was no evidence to indicate a forced entry, the police focused on her husband as her only suspect. Peterson was found guilty, spending eight years in prison before being granted a second trial after it was shown that the prosecutor had relied on misleading testimony. The charge was reduced to involuntary manslaughter and in all that time, and still at 78 years old, he maintains his innocence.
However, true crime lovers already know this story well enough. And it is that the same case, with the same title, was told in a documentary series of 13 episodes premiered in Netflix in 2018. And I’m not talking about just any series that went unnoticed among the constant tide of streaming premieres, but about one of the great queens of the genre. And it is that The Staircase, the documentary series is one of the most acclaimed and outstanding of true crime. I am even convinced that it was one of the great responsibles that made the genre begin to experience the fury that it has enjoyed for some years.
Not only was it praised by critics at the time, but if we review the lists of the best true crime on Netflix or streaming in general that circulate on the networks, we will see that it usually appears among the most outstanding. making a murderer will have been the first to open the doors to the phenomenon of true crime series in 2015, followed by other gems such as Wild Wild Country, The Keepers either Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, but The Staircase always stood out on par or above, thanks to the realistic and investigative portrait of the case from the internal view of posing the cameras on the accused.
And it is that unlike other series or movies of the black chronicle, this documentary version of The Staircase, began following Michael Peterson from the moment he was charged. In this way, and throughout 13 episodes, we witness the accusation, the investigation, the prosecutor’s theories, the preparation of the trial between Peterson and his lawyers, as well as the emotional and internal interaction between him and his family throughout of process. What’s more, the cameras followed him for years, re-recording and following him to the end. For this reason, and as it is a case flooded with allegations, doubts and theories that still persist, added to the apparently egocentric personality of the accused, we ended up experiencing a series that spread concern and questions from start to finish, making us participate as visual detectives from House.
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The addictiveness of The Staicase-in both versions – is that it captures a case full of nuances, where theories were shot in all directions while revelations were made, each more impressive.From Peterson’s bisexuality to another suspicious death of a friend of hers some time ago, also at the foot of a staircase, the case is disturbing and exciting to follow due to the doses of real-time investigation it proposes.
In this way, the new HBO Max series has a wonderful asset in its favor: having a most addictive story. I have had access to the first five chapters and I can confirm that it is a work with careful attention to detail, with an impressively ambiguous performance by Colin Firth, who perfectly captures the walk, gestures and even the way of speaking of the real Peterson. But, above all, it manages to convey the doubt that the original story always conveyed.. Both he and his companions, from Toni Collette as Kathleen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Juliette Binoche and the interpreters who give life to his children -from Dane DeHaan to Patrick Schwarzenegger and Sophie Turner- shine in the dramatization of the case. However, as he pointed out at the beginning, there is a problem.
And it is that those who have never seen The Staircase in Netflix They will be able to experience for the first time the restlessness, intrigue and investigative dose that the case and the story provide. Even the HBO Max series itself uses the recording of the documentary series as a primary part of its plot. But those of us who did see the original version are not going to find anything new that hooks us beyond the expansion of some theories that the documentary series went over. The problem is that the surprise factor is lost when knowing all the revelations, and since it is such a faithful dramatization of the characters and the case, it does not end up giving us something different.
Also, being such a popular and prominent true crime series among fans of the genre, I wonder how it can affect HBO Max. On the one hand, they will have new viewers who I am sure will be religiously hooked on each chapter, generating weekly conversation, as happened with Mare of Easttown, But since it is a well-known story, with countless articles that already talked about the case in 2018 before the premiere on Netflix and having Wikipedia pages that tell everything, it does not have the trick of novelty.
Those of us who have already experienced the impact of the plot, the doubts it generates, the internal restlessness of wanting to decipher the case while we analyzed every step, action, word and attitude of Michael Peterson before the cameras, we are not going to find something different in the new series. And that is, perhaps, its biggest problem as it is a production that lives in a genre as popular and with as many viewers as true crime. However, those who do not know the case or have not seen the series of Netflix they are going to live a true serial addiction. If you are one of them, I advise you to avoid reading or looking for information on the case and let it surprise you. That’s how I experienced the original version and still, four years later, it’s still my favorite true crime.
The Staicase, the HBO Max series, will have 8 episodes to premiere every Friday. At the time of writing this article, the first two are already available. The documentary version of Netflix is still available in full on that platform.