What You Need To Know Before Binging Netflix's The Staircase

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Netflix didn't invent true crime, but our national obsession with the subject was certainly fueled by docu-series like Making a Murderer, The Keepers, and Wild, Wild Country. Now, Netflix has another true crime addition headed our way, but instead of the streaming platform bringing fans a crazy but little-discussed story, this series is a continuation of what many consider to be the grandfather of "did he do it?" docs.
New episodes of The Staircase will drop June 8, and if you've already exhausted all of your Making a Murderer theories, it's time to invest in this twisted mystery.
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But what is The Staircase, and why is it such a big deal? Here's your guide to the buzzy series.
What Is The Staircase? What's It About?
In 2004, filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade debuted The Staircase. The eight-part mini-series examines the case of Michael Peterson, a novelist who was accused of murdering his wife Kathleen after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their Durham, North Carolina home.
Whose Story Is It Telling?
The docu-series tells the story from Peterson and his defense team's perspective. Unlike many other documentaries, de Lestrade and his crew received intimate access from Peterson and his family. De Lestrade began filming for the documentary shortly after Kathleen's death, which means that he was there for Peterson's arrest.
Though the docu-series tries its best to be unbiased (it never concludes definitively if Peterson did or did not kill his wife), many fans believe it leans towards the side of the defense. Of course, you have to draw your own conclusions on that after viewing it.
What Makes This True Crime Story So Special?
If you thought that The Keepers had some crazy twists and turns, well, The Staircase had them first: It is revealed that Peterson was involved in another death-by-staircase situation, and that the writer was also having extramarital affairs which his wife may (or may not) have known about and accepted. Then there's that whole life insurance policy...
Wait, There's More Than One Staircase?
Yep. The critically-acclaimed series received a two-hour follow-up film in 2012, The Staircase II: The Last Chance, which details the aftermath of Peterson's trial. (No spoilers here!) Alas, that "last" in the title was a bit misleading, as Netflix has now picked up brand-new episodes of the series, which will stream alongside the original programs.
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How Do I Watch This?
Good news: Everything will be available on Netflix, even though not all of it is "new."
Wait, So If Not All Of It Is New... How Should I Watch This?
For those just starting The Staircase for the first time, you should probably just start at the beginning. However, there are several parts to this 13-episode series, which means you can also jump in later if you're already familiar with the program.
The original series consists of eight episodes. The sequel to the original docu-series, The Last Chance, consists of episode 9 and 10 in the series. The new program, which first debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, runs from episode 11 to 13.
Okay, I'm In & Want To Dive Really Deep. What's Next?
Hit Reddit if you want to debate the popular owl theory, which suggests that the bird of prey was the real culprit behind Kathleen's murder. Want something a little bit lighter? Check out NBC's Trial & Error, which is loosely based on The Staircase.
I Forgot. When Can I Watch This Again?
All episodes stream on Netflix June 8. Get excited, armchair sleuths!
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