‘Making a Murderer’ Sweeps Nonfiction Emmy Categories, Creators React To Brendan Dassey’s Conviction Overturn

UPDATED: Hugely popular Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer converted 4 of its 6 Emmy nominations on Sunday. It swept the top 3 nonfiction categories, winning for best documentary or nonfiction series, best writing and best directing for nonfiction program, and also took home best picture editing for nonfiction program.

The strong show extended the national fascination with true crime and legal procedure — last year’s Documentary or Nonfiction series winner was HBO’s documentary miniseries The Jinx, about accused murderer Robert Durst.

Onstage, Making a Murderer writers-directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos thanked their families, the creative team and most importantly the subjects of their documentary series: “If they had not trusted us to take the time to listen and share their stories accurately and fairly, there would be no series,” they said.

Filmed over the course of 10 years, the 10-episode documentary series premiered on Netflix in December. The series details the story of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison wrongfully convicted of the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beersten before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2003. In 2007, he was convicted of the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. The series also explores the conviction of Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey, who was also charged in the murder.

Unlike The Jinx, Making a Murderer will get a followup to its original installment, with new episodes already in the works.

Asked about the recent developments in the case, which saw Dassey’s conviction overturned, a move that is currently being appealed, Ricciardi said, “This is just part of the process, this is justice at work, and we will continue to document that. It is a very trying time for all of the families involved.”

When asked if the awards are providing vindication for the project, Demos said: “I really don’t believe that the show needs vindication. We have always said that the show’s best friend is the public record.”

Ricciardi and Demos were little known up-and-coming documentarians when they started working on Making a Murderer.  “I think one of the main things we would like is for this to encourage other emerging artists that they should believe in themselves and never count themselves out,” Demos said. She said it had been a struggle but “luckily we had each other and a commitment to our subjects.”
In addition to the Making a Murder followup, next for the pair is a docuseries based on Steven Brill’s series of articles America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker. It is being produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s company Smokehouse and Sonar Entertainment.