Life After “Serial”: Compelling Reasons “The Staircase” Should Be Your Next Obsession
If you’re one of the millions of listeners who spent the final months of 2014 hooked on Serial, the podcast about a real-life murder mystery produced by NPR’s All Things Considered, then you’re probably still jonesing for another true whodunit you can wrap your sleuthing brain around. So may we suggest The Staircase? This spellbinding documentary tells the story of Michael Peterson, a North Carolina husband and father accused of murdering his wife in 2001 after she was found dead at the bottom of a flight of steps. Serial was great, yes, but so is The Staircase. Read why then be sure to watch the full series online now.
1. The Staircase Starts at the Beginning
Director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and his film crew began documenting the Peterson case within weeks of his indictment (which itself came just 11 days after his wife was found dead). That head start allowed them to interview dozens of people from all sides while delving deep into both the defense’s and the prosecution’s preparations for the trial. Serial re-investigates the murder of high-schooler Hae Min Lee 15 years after the fact. The Staircase adds immediacy to the mix!
2. Seeing Is Beguiling
While Serial proved how compelling audio storytelling is, there’s still something about shocking visuals that has its own fascination. In The Staircase, the defendant Peterson’s expressions (which are downright bizarre at times) as he discusses his wife and what happened to her adds a layer of complexity.
3. The Petersons Are a House Divided
In Serial, the friends and family of Adnan Syed — the ex-boyfriend, who was ultimately sentenced to life in prison for murder — were fairly unified in maintaining his innocence. But over the course of The Staircase, certain members of the Peterson clan begin to doubt his version of events.
4. Another Juicy Tale of Love Gone Awry
In both Serial and The Staircase, the prosecution posits that a soured romance is the motive. For Syed, it’s a simple case of unrequited love. For Peterson, the central love affair is about as murky a marriage as you can get.
5. The Defense Speaks
Syed’s trial lawyer had passed on by the recording of Serial which added to the drama since listeners found her tactics dumbfounding at times. Peterson’s defense team includes charming defense attorney David Rudolf, who becomes a fascinating supporting character over the course of the series.
6. The Staircase Is So Twisted
We won’t give away any spoilers but The Staircase contains a freaky revelation about Peterson’s past that seems to come out of nowhere. Kind of like that streaker in Serial but creepier.