Making a Murderer, the Netflix series of how prosecutors in Wisconsin may very well have framed a man named Steven Avery for murder, was one of the many true-crime stories that has transfixed audiences in recent years, along with Serial and The Jinx. The series, like the other two, was occasion for much soul-searching about the nature of the criminal justice system, as well as the new phenomenon of amateur sleuthing by people online, most on Reddit, believing they can solve the mystery more effectively than the real-life cops or prosecutors.
Netflix has already announced a follow-up to Making a Murderer which, in the tradition of the second and third Paradise Lost films about the West Memphis Three, will follow real-life developments in the case while all but openly advocating for the subject’s exoneration. Now, in addition to the new episodes, we’ll have another place to watch the Making a Murderer story, or something like it: Law & Order: SVU.
The long-running NBC crime series, perhaps inevitably, will air an episode this coming season based on the Making a Murderer saga, THR said Friday.
Henry Thomas, the child star of E.T.: The Extra: Terrestrial who has had steady work as a character actor as an adult, will appear in the episode, as will Kelli Williams, best known for co-starring on the ‘90s lawyer show The Practice. According to THR:
Thomas will portray a convicted rapist recently exonerated due to newly tested DNA evidence after 16 years in prison. But his freedom doesn’t last very long - Fin (Ice T), the arresting officer all those years ago, must investigate the man once again when he’s implicated in a deadly crime. Williams will play Melanie, the rape victim who identified him as her attacker.
SVU doing this, of course, was probably inevitable. It’s been Law & Order tradition for going on 25 years to “rip from the headlines” any prominent murder or other crime, so long as it easily fits into the series’ established template.
That said, most of those cases aren’t already TV shows. The temptation is to say that if you want to watch Making a Murderer on TV, you can just watch Making a Murderer on TV - there’s no need for an SVU adaptation. However, the series has been on something of an uptick the past couple of years, and I’m interested to see what they can do with the material.
The Law & Order: SVU episode based on Making a Murderer will air sometime in the fall. Making a Murderer’s new episodes do not yet have a release date.