True crime is a hot TV trend right now — just look at The Jinx; Making A Murderer; The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story; O.J.: Made In America; Amanda Knox; and Captive. Ever since Sarah Koenig's podcast Serial reignited America's interest in true crime stories, our television landscape has been quick to capitalize on this craze, churning out a number of high-quality programs in various formats (scripted and non-scripted, long-form and short-form, anthology and serialized, broadcast and streaming) that have analyzed the nooks and crannies of cases both infamous and obscure. And it doesn't look like the craze is calming down anytime soon… if the trailer for ABC's Truth And Lies: The Menendez Brothers is any indication.
The almost three-minute-long promo for the upcoming two-hour documentary special makes no bones about the fact that its cribbing from a hot trend. After a brief opening consisting of crime scene video and court room testimony underscored by the ominous chiming of a clock, the trailer kicks into high gear with some rock music and the tagline, "Before O.J., this was the original trial of the century," complete with footage of the disgraced football star that anyone who watched the FX limited series or the ESPN documentary will find exceedingly familiar. "If you liked American Crime Story or Made In America," the Truth And Lies trailer seems to be saying, "then you'll love this show."
(There's also the title of the show, which itself seems to be cribbing from ABC's own programming slate, clearly aiming to capture the attention of Secrets And Lies fans with an exceedingly similar title.)
For those too young to remember 1989 (or for those too young to be alive in 1989), the Menendez Brothers — Erik and Lyle — murdered their father Jose (an entertainment executive) and their mother Kitty with a shotgun in their Beverly Hills home and, after a lengthy trial broadcast nationwide on Court TV, were eventually sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Since their conviction in 1994, the brothers have remained in separate maximum security prisons, where they have both since married women they met through written correspondence.
The trailer for the ABC special leans into the more lurid details of the case, using rock & roll music, ubiquitous signs of wealth (mansions, yachts, private planes, Porsches), and even glamorous half-naked photos of one of the brothers to send up the lurid "Hollywood tragedy" aspect of the true story. Portraying the cold-blooded murderers as rock stars will undoubtedly be a controversial take on the subject matter — but not necessarily a take that's untrue to life, given the widespread notoriety the killers gained thanks to their televised trial. ("To me, it was like a movie," an unseen woman says in a voiceover during the trailer.)
Aside from its lionization of the Menendez Brothers, the Truth And Lies trailer also indicates that the special will be packed full of new revelations about the case. "They told Barbara Walters this," the promo declares before showing footage from an interview she conducted with Erik and Lyle. "What do they say now?" the trailer then teases. "For the first time, hear from Lyle in prison." Other taglines promise the scoop on "Erik's secret life," "New private movies," "New interviews," and "What were they thinking at trial?"
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the Menendez brothers — and more — when Truth And Lies premieres on ABC at 9:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 5. And if that's not enough, NBC has its own take on the infamous case coming later in the year as the first season of its new anthology series, new anthology series Law & Order: True Crime.