True crime stories are sort of having a moment right now. Sarah Koenig just pulled a Beyoncé and dropped Season 2 of her popular podcast Serial with little to no fanfare last week. That same podcast is also being turned into a TV show for Fox 21 Television Studios by The Lego Movie masterminds Phil Lord and Chris Miller. HBO's docu-series The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst was one of the most acclaimed television programs of the year. And now Netflix is unveiling their own true crime series, Making A Murderer — and unlike Serial, you'll be able to marathon every minute of this tantalizing true story when the whole season drops on Dec. 18. But how long will we have to wait for more once we've marathoned our way through all 10 episodes? Will there be a Season 2 of Making A Murderer ?
That's a tricky question to answer. Netflix is currently too busy ramping up for Season 1 of the show to be talking about any hypothetical future seasons. But there's no reason to assume the streaming service wouldn't at least consider additional seasons of the show if it does very well for them. Hype over Serial led that program to be the #1 ranked podcast on iTunes even before it premiered, and it stayed there for three months, well after the season had ended; it also became the fastest podcast in history to reach 5 million downloads. Unsurprisingly, Serial 's renewal was announced before Season 1 had even finished airing.
However, unlike iTunes (or television networks) Netflix doesn't release ratings information, so fans will have no way to track how popular it is as a way of predicting its renewal chances. But fortunately, there are other ways to tell how well a show is doing other than its ratings — especially for a service that doesn't rely on advertisers. Take HBO's The Leftovers, which on ratings alone would never have merited a renewal. (Its second season was only watched live by an average of 698,000 viewers per episode.) And yet, on the back of the show's loyal cult following and rave critical reviews, HBO agreed to renew The Leftovers for a third (and final) season. (Four days after that renewal, the show dominated the nominations at the Critics Choice Awards, vindicating HBO's decision.)
If Making A Murderer becomes a buzzworthy cultural obsession and breaks into the modern zeitgeist in the furious way that Serial did in October of 2014, then you can certainly expect Netflix to attempt to capitalize on its success. (A Peabody Award certainly wouldn't hurt, either.) But there's an inherent problem to the idea of more seasons of Making A Murderer: since it's about a real person (convicted murderer Steven Avery), its story has a logical endpoint that will presumably be reached by the end of the season. (Not that its subject story is "over"; just that the rest of it hasn't happened yet.)
Unless the makers of Making A Murderer have saved a large portion of Avery's story for a second season, then it seems like the only logical way to continue the series would be with a Serial-like approach of tackling a different case every year. However, unlike Serial, which has shifted from a murder investigation into the charges of desertion against Bowe Bergdahl, Murderer is fairly constrained by its own title as to the types of cases it can pursue.
Even if the Murderer team did find another equally captivating murderer they wanted to investigate, there's still another obstacle to any hypothetical Season 2: the fact that it took them 10 years to make this one. It would be quite a tight turnaround to expect them to create, research, shoot, and produce a whole second season by next year. Any result couldn't possibly be as in-depth as this first season promises to be.
In fact, if Netflix hopes for more Making A Murderer, the true crime series they would most hope to emulate is The Staircase, a 2004 French miniseries chronicling the trial of Michael Peterson, who was convicted in 2003 of murdering his wife, but was given a retrial in 2011 after a Superior Court judge determined that key witness Duane Deaver "misled jurors" during his testimony. After Peterson was released from jail in 2011 awaiting his trial, ABC News reports that Peterson said, "I want to thank Judge Hudson for giving me that opportunity so that I can vindicate myself and prove my innocence in a fair trial this time." Meanwhile, according to ABC News, Deaver's lawyer Philip Isley, said: "We respectfully disagree with Judge Hudson's beliefs about our client, Duane Deaver. Our client did not perjure himself or mislead the jury in the original Peterson trial, in any way." As of January 2015, Peterson's case was still awaiting a court date.
Although there was never a second season of the show The Staircase, when new developments in the case emerged, the filmmakers returned to the subject matter to create a brief follow-up, which aired as two brand new episodes in March of 2013. (Like Serial, the original run of The Staircase also earned a Peabody.)
Whether Making A Murderer is renewed for a full second season featuring a brand new case; whether it returns for an epilogue a few years down the road; or whether this is all we ever get, it's bound to be an exciting watch that only furthers our culture's fascination with true crime. If only Truman Capote could see us now...