Why 'Making A Murderer' Part 2 Will Make You Feel Morally Conflicted

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Making A Murderer Part 1 may have transformed once-private citizens into bonafide celebrities, but Making A Murderer Part 2 shows the price of that sudden fame. The first few episodes chronicle the demise of Steven Avery's relationship with Sandra Greenman, to whom he was engaged in Part 1. Roughly a month after the show's 2015 premiere, she told the Daily Mail that they'd split due to a difference in beliefs.

"Steve and I were engaged to be married and I broke it off," she explained. "It's not that I've ever stopped trying to work for him, but it was a religious thing. I cannot marry someone that's not a Christian."

In Part 2, she remains one of Avery's staunchest supporters, except for a time, at least, there's another woman in the picture: Lynn Hartman, Avery's fiancee for roughly one week in 2016. On-screen, Greenman warns that she's "trying to protect [Avery] from the people out there who don't have good motives." Off-screen, she claimed in a Facebook statement whose veracity was confirmed by Bustle that Hartman was allegedly only with Avery for "money and publicity," and that she'd reportedly been paid upwards of $6,000 for TV appearances. In response to these accusations, Hartman gave Bustle the following statement:

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Making A Murderer stops short of siding with Greenman, but the show gives her a platform to state her side. "I wanted to be a part of it," Hartman, who began writing to Avery in prison after watching Part 1, tells the cameras. "I don't know how to explain it but I knew, in my soul, that it was going to be a part of my life. And I knew that if there was another season of the documentary that I was going to be in it as Steven's girlfriend."

And Brendan Dassey, too, has had to fend off alleged profiteers. In a call captured by the documentarians, Dassey tells his parents that someone has been selling letters they claimed were written by him. "Today someone told me that someone was selling my letters. And then, uh, it looks like one of them sold for $200," he says. "That letter is not one that I wrote because I never swore in any of my letters and there was two swear words in there."

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This, it seems, is the price of bringing national media attention to a case. Avery and Dassey have enjoyed their fair share of benefits from the spotlight: letters of support, fundraising campaigns, high-profile attorneys, Reddit users combing every inch of evidence for proof of their innocence. (Avery and Dassey were both convicted in connection to Teresa Halbach's 2005 murder, but have firmly maintained their innocence.)

With that, though, comes people looking to capitalize on their vulnerability. As a viewer, this is conflicting, as Making A Murderer has itself profited off of similar circumstances. According to The Independent, after the release of Making A Murderer Part 1, Netflix shares rose 8 percent and the streaming service added a record 5.59 million subscribers. And though Halbach's family has made their distaste for the docuseries quite clear, it was still greenlit for a second season. Yes, the show takes a critical look at the shortcomings of the criminal justice system, but it has also knowingly thrust a personal tragedy into the the public eye — now twice over.

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And you could turn that ethical discomfort inward, too: as consumers, is it OK to find entertainment in such a gruesome event? It may seem easy to get lost in true crime intrigue and elaborate conspiracy theories, but Teresa Halbach was not just a character being killed off in an Agatha Christie novel. She was a person with friends and family and an entire life lost. So when her loved ones object to putting her story out there, at least in the way Making A Murderer presents it, is it right for Netflix to do so anyway? Is it right to watch it? Is it right for some people to then use its existence to take advantage of Avery and Dassey?

Just as in Halbach's case, there are no clear-cut answers, but it's enough to make Making A Murderer that much more uncomfortable to watch.