If you're a fan of true crime, you've seen a lot of murder mystery documentaries—but never one quite like this. NBC's comedy series Trial & Error uses the mockumentary format to spoof some of the most popular crime docuseries and the most infamous murder trials. Season 1 of Trial & Error parodied a popular true crime tale, but will the new season, which premieres on July 19, follow the same pattern? Is Season 2 of Trial & Error based on a real case?
Season 1 of the series was meant to evoke The Staircase, as it followed the trial of a poetry professor (John Lithgow) accused of killing his wife. The second season of the series moves onto a new case. Titled Trial & Error: Lady, Killer, it features the case of the fictional Lavinia Peck-Foster (played by Kristin Chenoweth), an eccentric, incredibly wealthy heiress who has managed to capture the heart of the citizens of East Peck, even after she is discovered with the body of her husband in the trunk of her car. If this isn't ringing any immediate bells for true crime fans, it might be because of the gender-swap. Season 2 of Trial & Error is spoofing The Jinx, the infamous HBO docuseries that profiled Robert Durst, the heir to an immense real estate fortune who has been suspected of committing three murders.
Robert Durst has been suspected to be the man behind the disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst, and the murder of his friend Susan Berman, per The New York Times. Durst also stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his neighbor, 71-year-old Morris Black, whose body was found dismembered in Galveston Bay in Texas, according to The Los Angeles Times. Though Durst admitted to chopping up Black's body, his lawyers argued that Black was killed by Durst in a life-or-death struggle for a gun, and he was acquitted by the jury, per the same report.
The LA Times reports that currently, Durst is in custody awaiting trial for the murder of Berman, awaiting trial. (Per an earlier LA Times reported, he entered a plea of Not Guilty.) He landed there after appearing on the HBO documentary about his life, The Jinx, in which he infamously mumbled to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course," not knowing his mic was still on to capture his comments.
This might not necessarily seem like ample fodder for a comedy series, but Trial and Error manages to skewer Durst, the trial, and the docuseries brilliantly and hilariously. Though Kristin Chenoweth, who plays Lavinia Peck-Foster, is way more gregarious and over-the-top than Durst, her character manages to capture the same sense of assumed immunity that Durst had. The trailer even shows her bribing jurors with scarves— a move that Durst never pulled in real life, but that is definitely in the spirit of his immense wealth and power. Bustle has reached out to Durst's legal representation for comment.
Along for the ride are many of the same cast of characters from the first season, including the earnest, well-meaning defense lawyer Josh Segel (Nicholas D’Agosto), his assistant Anne Flatch (Sherri Shephard), investigator Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer), and defense attorney Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays). Josh's defense team will work to defend Lavinia, but from the looks of the preview for this season, she does not make their jobs very easy.
If it's anything like the first season, Trial & Error: Lady, Killer will be filled with moments that spoof scenes fans of The Jinx will be sure to recognize. Will Lavinia be reckless with a hot mic? Will she share Durst's tendency to burp nervously? Viewers will just have to tune in to the season premiere to find out.