Given our country's current obsession with true crime documentaries — as evidenced by the likes of Serial, The Jinx, Making A Murderer, and O.J.: Made In America — it's no surprise that someone has decided to tackle the case of JonBenét Ramsey, the child beauty pageant queen whose murder has gone unsolved since she was killed in her Colorado home in 1996. What is a bit surprising is that there's not one or two or three but four projects about Ramsey coming to television this fall, including A&E's The Killing Of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered, airing this Monday night. But will The Killing Of JonBenét return for more episodes? Or is it a one-time-only special?
A&E's take on the Ramsey case differs from the three others airing this fall: CBS's The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey and Investigation Discovery's JonBenét: An American Murder Mystery, both of which are three-part series that seek to solve the murder once and for all, and Lifetime's Who Killed JonBenét?, a scripted movie that recreates the circumstances of the day the young girl was found dead in the basement of her family home. (Why the sudden resurgence of interest in the Ramsey case, you ask? This Christmas will mark the 20th anniversary of the young girl's tragic slaying.)
The Truth Uncovered splits the difference between the multi-part docu-dramas of CBS and ID and Lifetime's one-off scripted event; while A&E's version is a documentary, it is simply a standalone two-hour documentary rather than a continuing series. It also differs from the documentaries produced by CBS and ID in that, rather than attempting to relaunch a full-blown investigation, the A&E special will be more focused on the human side of the story. According to Variety, The Truth Uncovered "will include the first airing of the interview conducted with JonBenét’s brother Burke in 1998" and "will also feature the first sit-down interview with [her father] John Ramsey as he shares unprecedented access to his diaries at the time of the murder as well as a new level of depth to his and his late wife’s feelings about that time in their life."
Given that The Truth Uncovered is just a self-contained two-hour documentary, A&E has no plans at the moment for future episodes or installments. But that can always change. At first it seemed like Netflix's Making A Murderer would be a similar one-off phenomenon, since it told the story of its subject, Steven Avery, all the way up to the present day. But after renewed interest in the case thanks to the docu-series led to Avery getting a new lawyer and fellow suspect Brendan Dassey's conviction being overturned, Netflix announced that Making A Murderer will return for more episodes to follow up on the developing story.
If The Truth Uncovered does well for A&E — and if the massive amounts of attention given to the Ramsey case by all the TV specials this fall lead to some new developments in the case — then it's not difficult to imagine the network following up on their documentary sometime in the future. But for the moment, such a turn of events remains completely hypothetical, and The Truth Uncovered remains a standalone event.
And if one two-hour episode is simply not enough to satisfy your appetite for true crime stories, well… good thing there are three more projects about JonBenét Ramsey coming down the pipeline in the next couple of months. That should be more than enough to keep us all sated until whenever Making A Murderer Season 2 finally hits Netflix.
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