Show + tell with Paul Flynn

Fol­low the fas­ci­nat­ing and grue­some twists and turns of The Stair­case as it re­turns to Net­flix

Grazia (UK) - - News - with PAUL FLYNN

THE MONTHLY FIX of the BBC’S makeshift po­lice sta­tion on Crime­watch was one of my beloved screen thrills when I was a child. Af­ter Top Of The Pops, it was prob­a­bly my favourite show. I’m not quite sure where the mor­bid fas­ci­na­tion with watch­ing re-en­act­ments of the mur­der of pen­sion­ers or low-level jew­ellery heists came from or, in­deed, why the fol­low-up of a photo-fit would pro­duce such a sero­tonin rush in a 12-year-old school­boy but, seem­ingly, that need to en­gulf our­selves in other peo­ple’s crime sto­ries has never gone away. Now I just watch them for 10 hours, of­ten back-to-back.

By episode six of The Stair­case, I had to ask my­self, what are you get­ting out of all this? The lat­est real crime drama about to take a hold was first aired in 2005 on BBC Four. It con­cerns the hideous case of Kath­leen Peter­son, found at the bot­tom of her stair­well in the vast fam­ily home sit­u­ated in Durham, North Carolina, by her hus­band, Mike. Was there foul play afoot? You don’t have to be Quincy to recog­nise all is not as it seems from the open­ing bars of the story. To add a fur­ther twist, Mike is a writer and ex-viet­nam vet. As the seem­ingly per­fect fam­ily life of the Peter­sons is un­rav­elled, the picket-fence dream of Amer­ica’s Chris­tian fam­ily val­ues un­folds as each layer of the story is peeled away.

The Stair­case of­fers unique ac­cess to the case. Bereft fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing Caitlin (Kath­leen’s daugh­ter), the Peter­sons’ two jock-ish sons, Todd and Clay­ton, and Mike’s adopted daugh­ters, Martha and Mar­garet, join with foren­sic ex­perts, de­fence teams of at­tor­neys and in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­lice of­fi­cers and de­tec­tives to try and shine a light on whether Mike Peter­son mur­dered his wife or not. It is pretty much rou­tinely hor­rific view­ing, sat­u­rated in fur­ther lay­ers of in­sti­tu­tional ho­mo­pho­bia as Mike’s bi­sex­u­al­ity is re­vealed along­side the du­plic­ity of the dream of the nu­clear fam­ily. For its new in­car­na­tion, three new episodes have been added to the se­ries up­dat­ing the story, bring­ing the mur­der case up to date, just like Crime­watch used to do, ‘af­ter the news’.

The new ex­tended se­ries of The Stair­case is a long time to in­vest in the Peter­son case, a grim mir­ror held to the flux state of Amer­i­can fam­ily life. It begs a ques­tion about ob­ses­sive view­ing habits. Is my com­pul­sive stream­ing habit ac­tu­ally driv­ing me nuts? Be­gins Fri­day, Net­flix

The press sur­round Peter­sons’ lawyer and friend David Ru­dolf

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