Best of 2016: Scary Things About Making A Murderer Other Than The Murder

Let’s take it way back to a simpler time: exactly a year ago. Everyone was talking about Steven Avery, small-town Wisconsin justice, and a really horrible 2005 murder thanks to the Netflix series Making A Murderer. We were amazed that out of this whole basket of deplorables (to borrow an expression), a grisly murder wasn’t the only terrifying aspect of the story.  (By the way, when we were discussing this post last week, we also realized that these scary Manitowoc County people were also exactly the people who voted the next president into office … so there’s another spooky aspect to this whole story.)


Scary Things About Making A Murderer Other Than The Murder

Winter in Wisconsin

I live in one of the snowiest cities in America (100 inches/average). We get 12 inches of lake effect snow and school isn’t even cancelled the next day. The average high temperature last February was 12 degrees Fahrenheit. And I am a total wimp compared to the hardy Wisconsinites in this series. Didn’t it feel like every exterior shot, no matter what time it took place, was crammed with piles of snow everywhere? But nobody complained or even looked cold? Manitowoc County is like the North Pole except that it’s a workshop for unspeakable violence and judicial corruption instead of toys.

Scare Scale: A White-Knuckle Drive On An Icy Expressway – 2/10

The Land That Time Forgot

Based on the hair and wardrobe of the various townspeople, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Making A Murderer was filmed in 1986 or 1998, but it was actually well into the 2000s. I know plenty of small-town residents, rural folks, and Midwesterners who look completely normal, so the frozen-in-time aesthetic really added to the feeling that there was something just off about every single one of these people.

Scare Scale: The moment when Rip Van Winkle awakes – 3/10

Two Nice Lesbians In Possible Peril

The filmmakers behind Making A Murderer, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, were a very young, chill lesbian couple from Columbia University when this project began. Although there are tons of intelligent, free-thinking people in the rural northern Midwest, the particular crowd that was featured in this documentary seemed… um… not that way. Not to mention, Ricciardi and Demos probably didn’t exactly blend into the Land That Time Forgot. They never mentioned being made to feel at all uncomfortable, but I still found myself wanting to call in a welfare check when I realized they were alone with some of those people (ahem… Steven’s terrifying mother).

Scare Scale: That Time When TLC Showed Michelle Duggar’s Lesbian Sister & I Imagined The First Time She Met Jim-Bob – 5/10

See the rest here.

Scary Things About Making A Murderer Other Than The Murder

If you have a Netflix account and a social media presence, chances are you’ve watched Making A Murderer, you’ve discussed Making A Murderer … and you’ve been terrified by Making A Murderer. Obviously the scariest thing in the series (and also one of the least-discussed, somehow) is THE ACTUAL, TERRIBLE MURDER OF 25-YEAR OLD TERESA HALBACH. Caps lock totally necessary because it was awful. But the horror doesn’t end there – we were duly frightened by the following:

Winter in Wisconsin

I live in one of the snowiest cities in America (100 inches/average). We get 12 inches of lake effect snow and school isn’t even cancelled the next day. The average high temperature last February was 12 degrees Fahrenheit. And I am a total wimp compared to the hardy Wisconsinites in this series. Didn’t it feel like every exterior shot, no matter what time it took place, was crammed with piles of snow everywhere? But nobody complained or even looked cold? Manitowoc County is like the North Pole except that it’s a workshop for unspeakable violence and judicial corruption instead of toys.

Scare Scale: A White-Knuckle Drive On An Icy Expressway – 2/10

The Land That Time Forgot

Based on the hair and wardrobe of the various townspeople, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Making A Murderer was filmed in 1986 or 1998, but it was actually well into the 2000s. I know plenty of small-town residents, rural folks, and Midwesterners who look completely normal, so the frozen-in-time aesthetic really added to the feeling that there was something just off about every single one of these people.

Scare Scale: The moment when Rip Van Winkle awakes – 3/10

The Straight-From-Deliverance Interior Design

Even if I didn’t know that a person may have been raped and murdered in Steven Avery’s home, I’d consider it a house of horrors. The whole Avery slum is like a reverse Kennedy compound (only similarity: some possible murder cover-ups). I grew up in an inner city neighborhood and I can safely say that a WHOLE lot of poor people manage not to decorate like the subjects of Making A Murderer.

Scare Scale: Walking Into Your Home Post-Trading Spaces c. 2003 And Finding That One Of The BAD Designers Did It- 4/10

Two Nice Lesbians In Possible Peril

The filmmakers behind Making A Murderer, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, were a very young, chill lesbian couple from Columbia University when this project began. Although there are tons of intelligent, free-thinking people in the rural northern Midwest, the particular crowd that was featured in this documentary seemed… um… not that way. Not to mention, Ricciardi and Demos probably didn’t exactly blend into the Land That Time Forgot. They never mentioned being made to feel at all uncomfortable, but I still found myself wanting to call in a welfare check when I realized they were alone with some of those people (ahem… Steven’s terrifying mother).

Scare Scale: That Time When TLC Showed Michelle Duggar’s Lesbian Sister & I Imagined The First Time She Met Jim-Bob – 5/10

Unappealing Day-Drinking

In one of the early episodes, townspeople were interviewed at a local bar. It looked like everyone in the county was there downing domestic draft beer and shooting pool – and then we realized it was the middle of the afternoon. Maybe there was a game on or something? There’s nothing exactly WRONG with going to the bar in the daytime, but it looked distinctly like that’s what some people were doing all day, every day.

Scare Scale: Realizing That You Get Hungover After Two Drinks Now That You’re Old – 3/10

Small rural towns in general

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a suburb of the third most populated city in New York, or have an attraction to big cities (typing this to you from LA), but areas with nothing around except 200 people who know your shit scares me. Unless it’s Stars Hollow. But IRL, I couldn’t handle it. I’ve taken a cross country road trip which included driving through pretty much all of Texas and Oklahoma, and it was those states that I feared the most (for other reasons too we can get into later). It’s just all land, nothing around. What if you need medical attention ASAP? Where’s the nearest hospital? Is it even a good one (DR. DEREK SHEPARD)?? If someone kills you, will anyone be able to hear your screams? If you sleep with the local diner owner who’s been pining for you for years and you accidentally go down to the open diner sans pants and clearly sexed from the night before, will the gossip ever stop about your relationship? Nope. Not for me.

Scare Scale: Getting Hit By A Deer On The Way To An Exam At Chilton – 7/10

Going commando

In the 1985 rape case, Penny Beernsten said her assailant was wearing white underwear during the attack. However, Steven Avery’s post-conviction lawyer argued that Steven doesn’t own any underwear – white or otherwise. So like, never? It’s so cold in Wisconsin! Although he spends most of his time indoors, I’m assuming.

Scare Scale: Realizing that your underwear lines were visible all day – 6/10

Casual front yard fire pits

even the dog thinks this is ridiculous

Listen, I love a good bonfire but I don’t call my friends over to casually burn an old cabinet and a van seat in the afternoon. I especially didn’t do that when I was 16. I mean, how even are you supposed to make s’mores? But on the real, if you had a neighbor that was burning furniture in his front yard in the middle of the day, you’d think something was up right? I guess this wouldn’t be weird in rural Wisconsin, so ok, maybe if you’re in a populated suburb or a big city – THIS WOULD BE SCARY.

Scare Scale: A Manitowoc-Sized Hole In The Ozone Layer – 6/10

The fact this rap exists

“Kid’s just innocent / was only 16, tryna set him free / He’s not guilty, there’s no way in hell / Corruption made him fall, lose it all .”

Naturally, Brendan’s half-brother made a rap about his innocence.

Scare Scale: White Rappers – 7/10

Literally framed

Police sketch artist/Chief Deputy Sheriff Gene Kusche walked into quite a first day on the job when he took on the case in 1985. He was basically (allegedly) told to draw a sketch of Steven Avery based on a mug shot they had of him from the time he did the thing to the cat. Kusche denied he was told what to draw, despite DNA proving Steven didn’t do it. Anyways, he framed the sketch and hung it up alongside Steve’s actual mug shot. In his words, “I’m just… the pencil. I’m just the pencil.”

Scare Scale: When You’re Walking Past A Mirror And You Don’t Recognize Yourself At First – 8/10

The “International Recording Artist” wasn’t that at all

Not only was he not international, he was also not recording or an artist- he’s a small town guitarist that one time played a NASCAR event and opened for a few country acts – they’ve never played outside the U.S., per TMZ.

Scare Scale: Those Creepy Children Who Performed At The Trump Rally – 6/10

Ken Kratz revealed

The man had both a drug AND sex addiction and has only been sober for five years. Meaning he had this problem during the Avery case??

Scare Scale: When You Get Home And A Door Is Open That Shouldn’t Be And You Don’t Know Whether It’s Better If It Was A Burglar Or A Ghost: 8/10

Everyone’s A Lawyer

I don’t consider myself a legal expert, and I graduated magna cum laude from law school, passed the bar on the first try, and have been working in the legal profession for 4 years. But you know who DO consider themselves legal experts? A whole bunch of people who watched this show and armchair-lawyered it on the internet.  I want people to take interest in the justice system, ask questions, and form opinions, but a binge watch isn’t a doctoral degree. If it was I’d be a certified meth-chemist by now.

The only annoying things, actually, were people not understanding that some of the procedural stuff was totally normal and not a big deal, and believing that all necessary information was presented in this series.

Scare Scale: The morning before Day 2 of the New York bar exam, 4/10

Everyone’s Also A Predator?

Okay, not everyone, but way more people than I’m comfortable with (for the record, my comfort level would be 0. Zero people). First there’s Gregory Allen, the person who actually raped Penny Beernsten. Then there’s the person or people who killed Teresa Halbach, whoever that may be. Sit tight, there’s more. Charles Avery, Steven’s brother: charged with sexual assault; domestic violence. Earl Avery, Steven’s other brother: also charged with sexual assault (of his daughters). Scott Tadych, boyfriend of Barb Janda (Steven’s sister/ Brendan’s mom): stalking, domestic violence. Steven Avery: domestic violence. We’re all very fired up about problems in the criminal justice system now, as well we should be, but why isn’t this causing more outrage too?

Scare Scale: A Holiday Weekend-Long Law And Order: SVU Marathon, 9/10

Uncertainty in the justice system

I think most viewers can agree that the outrage of the show lies within the fact there just wasn’t enough evidence to prove neither Brendan or Steven Avery guilty. We are promised fair trials in cases like these, but something just wan’t right with this one. Too many sketchy bits add up to one questionable justice system in Wisconsin. That being said, what’s perhaps the scariest of all is that anyone could arrested (no matter the location), and despite all signs pointing to your innocence, end up behind bars for the rest of your life.

Scare Scale: I just found a dead body in my attic 10/10

Best ___ Of 2015: Some Really Specific Superlatives

2015 is over, and so is vacation. For a lot of us, this is the first day back at work for a week or two, and I, for one, am not ready. How not ready? I’m just going to bury my head in the sands of time and think about 2015 for a few more minutes. By now all of the year’s Best Of lists are out – best movie, best new television show, and so on. However, I think a few categories were left off the lists. From best Ham4Ham performance to best original song by a fictional artist, there’s a lot more of 2015 left to enjoy*.

*There isn’t, though. It’s over. Better get back to work after this. Yuck.

Best Ham4Ham performance of 2015: Love For The Techies Day

We aren’t going to talk about the best musical of 2015 – there’s no need, because I think we all agree here (#WeAreAHamiltonBlogNow). So how about the best performance from Ham 4 Ham, the Hamilton lottery? There are a lot of excellent contenders and you could make a solid argument for a handful of them, but I’m going with one of the more unorthodox performances: Love for the Techies Day. The whole company performed the Ten Duel Commandments, but it wasn’t just amazing because the entire cast was there. The stage manager called out all of the cues, and when you realize that he does that for the entire show, every day, you’ll be blown away.

Best dance craze of 2015: Whip & Nae Nae

… and NOT because it’s a good dance, but because it has followed the classic Dance Craze trajectory. It is easy enough that anybody can execute it, though maybe not well. It started as a reasonably “cool” thing to do, then trickled down to the elementary school set. From there, it has traveled way up the age bracket, and there’s a good chance that your mom or aunt has learned it at a wedding (possibly from a child). In a lot of ways, the nae nae is like the Macarena of 2015. Complete with annoying song that we’re all sick of.

Best viral video with a puppy in it: Drunk Girls Get Surprised With Puppies

This was not an easy choice, and I am fully open to more puppy video suggestions because I can’t get enough. I am particularly partial to puppies making friends with other species. But this one basically summed up my internal monologue when I see a puppy, so I’m going with it. Also my favorite puppy/horse video is from 2014, anyway.

Best viral video with a kitten in it: Meet Koko’s New Kittens

Koko always wanted a baby, but she got kittens instead. Apparently when a human does that it’s “sad” (whatever) but it sure is adorable when a gorilla did it. The gorilla is so gentle I want to cry.

Best new Netflix series – comedy: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The magic starts with the theme song and just keeps going. Master of None is a close second, but I’m not considering it a full-out *comedy* (we’ll explain).

Best new Netflix series – drama: Jessica Jones

I don’t know if this makes my opinion more or less valid (probably less?) but I’ve never seen a superhero show before. What I like is that it’s plot- and character- driven (and I realize that most superhero dramas are…) and there aren’t too many action sequences unless they actually move the story forward. Gratuitous action sequences are just something that tends to make me lose interest and avoid the genre. As a character study alone, I’m pleasantly surprised by how good this show is. [Full disclosure: real life got a little too real and I haven’t seen the last 3 episodes yet but I heard they’re excellent.]

Best new Netflix series – documentary: Making a Murderer

This isn’t the last you’ll hear from us about Making a Murderer, so I won’t say too much now. We both love how this filled the Serial-shaped hole in our lives (the new season of Serial is still good, but different).

Honorable mention for best documentary: Master of None, because I know it’s a comedy but it was also the REALEST thing I’ve seen in a while.

Best 90s television reunion: Saved By The Bell on Jimmy Fallon

This was 100% more Bayside-like than that weird school in the Lifetime movie about Saved By The Bell. I wonder at what point Mark Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez will stop looking exactly like 1993-era  Zach Morris and A.C. Slater given the right hair and wardrobe.

Best 2000s television reunion: Gilmore Girls 

And not just because we were there.  It’s not often that the entire cast of a show will reunite like that, and it’s even better now that we know that the series will be getting the sign-off it deserved.

Best original song by a fictional artist: Drip Drop – Hakeem Lyon on Empire

We love original songs by fictional artists so much that we did a whole playlist on the topic, but if we did that today there’s a chance it would just be Drip Drop ten times. Just think, a year ago at this time we had no idea what Empire was going to unleash on all of us.

Best children’s movie for adults: Inside Out

It’s great for kids, too, but something about this one really grabs most adults, plus a lot of the references to things like art and psychology are geared toward the grown-ups, anyway. Fair warning: this is also 2015’s Best Children’s Movie To Cry During, based on an informal survey of … us. We both cried.

Best uncanny resemblance between a  celebrity and a presidential candidate: Larry David/ Bernie Sanders

Many of the best impressions are performed by people who look nothing like the subject they’re impersonating. Still, there’s something so exciting when a politician has a ready-made celebrity doppelgänger (see: Tina Fey and Sarah Palin). It looks like we’ll all be feeling the Bern for at least a while longer, so let’s all hope that Larry David is willing to reprise his spot-on, no-effort impersonation.

Best surprisingly heartwarming pop culture moment: Shia LaBoeuf watches the Even Stevens movie

 

I don’t know how I feel about Shia LaBoeuf, but I DO know how I feel about Even Stevens: that it’s an essential part of my childhood television cannon, and when I say childhood I mean that it aired when I was in high school and was made for 8-year-olds. Shia’s latest performance art piece, #AllMyMovies, involved him… watching all of his movies. Yet when I watch all of Shia LaBoeuf’s movies, it’s not performance art, it’s just a weird Saturday. Anyway, his reactions to Even Stevens were actually precious.