or Luke Cage canceled, here we’re talking about the lives of two seemingly innocent people. All this new season has done is draw a line under it all.
Making A Murderer Season 2 Is Too Long (And Nothing Happens)
The biggest problem facing Netflix’s original content is its length. Thanks to their focus on audience retention and the all-giving algorithm, their series tend to come in at either 10 or 13 episodes regardless of actual content. While a few years ago, that was viewed as short, in the modern landscape of serialized television it’s on the longer side, and typically leads to stretched out seasons. The Marvel Netflix shows are an oft-cited example (especially due to their prominence), but it runs across most series Netflix produces and drops all in one go.
And nowhere is it more evident than with Making A Murder season 2, a ten-episode order that is too long and too inflexible for the story at hand. It’s apparent immediately that to tell Avery and Dassey’s cases over the past two years doesn’t require ten hours, yet the show feels forced into doing it. As a result, information is teased slowly out at a snail’s pace, with excessive focus put on Zellner researching information she could easily relay in a fraction of the time and a detailed look at how the Avery’s have been affected with the cloud over them. The sum effect of this is that it makes everything feel less important.
Making A Murderer season 2 would have worked best as a pair of feature-length episodes, giving time to focus on the essential details while avoiding any bloat. This sort of alternative releasing method is well within the reach of a company that simply needs to push a button to put something live, and that this unique series was treated to a generic season only goes to highlight the self-imposed limits Netflix has on their original series.
Making A Murderer Season 2 Fails To Critique Itself
But where Making A Murder season 2 stumbles most is in something more insular than its legal or streaming context: it loses sight of itself. The new episodes open with a montage of news reports on season 1, exploring its unexpected and explosive impact on the discourse, the ensuing grassroots campaigns and highlighting missed information. It’s a bold move, one that suggests the show wants to explore its own role in the process it is documenting. And yet, once the sequence is over, this idea is never returned to.
That Steven’s DNA was on the hood latch of the Rav4, a detail omitted entirely from season 1, is brought up straight away to be debunked, but any other claims – that the show is perverting the course of justice or the wider debate of unfolding true crime as entertainment – are ignored. In fact, Making A Murderer season 2 is contextually deaf throughout. It skirts over how Zellner only agreed to help Avery after he became a high-profile case, while the questionable actions of Steven’s potentially fame-hungry fiance Lynn Hartman are glossed over. The show seems to have no interest in even contemplating the impact of the media circus it created unless it’s to demonize the prosecution. And why would it? The entire idea of a second season of Making A Murderer comes from the success of the first, rather than the necessity of the case.
What makes this decision so galling is that viewers have been treated to just such an analysis by fellow Netflix Original American Vandal. Season 1 of the true crime mockumentary was, on the surface, pretty much a straight Making A Murderer parody, just with graffitied genitalia. However, halfway through the (short) eight-episode run, the scripted show began to explore the impact an unrolling documentary had on the subject, seeing the producers become stars themselves, innocent participants having their reputations damaged, and the notion of the endeavor question. Season 2 continued that with a new mystery that again used meta-textual commentary, this time to explore how too intimate a relationship with a not-so-innocent subject can completely skew reporting. For a show that thrives on teenage vulgarity for laughs to provide such a mature analysis of the documentary format (as well as analyzing Generation Z’s reliance upon technology) while Making A Murderer shirks this responsibility is careless.
Making A Murderer season 2 is not necessarily bad TV, but it is ill-presented. It makes the defenses of the main players look interchangeably circumstantial and hopeless despite the truth, weakening resolve that either Steven or Brendan will ever be released. And thanks to Netflix’s rigid release structure, its lack of resolution is dragged out and tough to swallow. There is certainly a need for a follow-up to the seminal first season of Making A Murderer, but it shouldn’t have been done now or like this.