- Netflix’s “The Staircase” is the latest in its line-up of addictive true-crime series.
- It follows novelist Michael Petersen, who was accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen.
- She was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their Durham, North Carolina home in December 2001.
- Like “Making a Murderer,” there is a huge debate over whether or not Petersen did it – and little evidence supporting either theory.
The next big Netflix true-crime series is “The Staircase,” which documents a mysterious 2001 murder involving a staircase. It made its debut on the streaming service last week, though it’s a follow up to two other documentaries about the same case.
“‘The Staircase’ leaves you with an understanding not of how righteous justice is, but how evasive for so many,” Vogue wrote. “And how the best investigative work is thorough and slow, like the documentary itself.”
The Guardian said, “‘The Staircase’ demonstrates how to ride the wave of a sensational true story, zooming in on fine details before pulling back to unleash game-changing revelations at the steady rate of one stunner per episode.”
In other words, it’s a bit slow compared to other true-crime documentaries, but it’s incredibly addictive.
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s “The Staircase,” originally a 2004 French miniseries, documented the case of Kathleen Petersen’s death in Durham, North Carolina, in December 2001. She was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her home.
The cameras followed Kathleen’s husband, crime novelist Michael Peterson, who was indicted for her murder despite little evidence supporting theories from the prosecution and the defense. It also focused on Petersen’s defense team, his extended family, and the trial itself. It received critical acclaim at the time, and won a Peabody award.
In 2013, Lestrade made a two-hour movie (“The Staircase II: The Last Chance”) as Petersen continued the fight for his freedom. In 2017, the cameras returned to document Petersen’s plea deal and in February 2017, Petersen’s charge was reduced to manslaughter. He was sentenced to time served and freed.
But a lot of things surrounding Kathleen’s death still remain unknown.
Petersen, to this day, claims that his wife fell down the stairs and died from the wounds. But the prosecution claimed that he brutally beat Kathleen. And family members (Michael and Kathleen have children from other marriages) are split on the case, and some have even fluctuated in their opinions.
Like many true-crime documentaries made popular by Netflix – including “Making a Murderer” and “The Keepers” – “The Staircase” will leave you with more questions than it answers.
You can watch the trailer for “The Staircase” below. All 13 episodes are available on Netflix now.