Netflix’s brutal documentary series Making a Murderer is not an easy watch, but it’s a riveting one. The 10-episode season follows Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who served 18 years in prison for a sexual assault he didn’t commit. Two years after his 2003 exoneration—and one year after he filed a $36 million lawsuit against his home county for that wrongful conviction—Avery was accused of murdering a woman named Teresa Halbach.
Making a Murderer will make you angry. It will make you angry on behalf of both the Halbach and Avery families, and angry about how few firm conclusions we can draw about what actually happened on October 31, 2005. It will also make you want to hug Steven’s mom.
But just when you think you’ve lost all faith in the American criminal justice system, along come Avery’s defense attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerome “Jerry” Buting.
Since Making a Murderer premiered on December 18, it seems like half the Internet has fallen in love with these two non-descript, middle-aged professionals, who represent perhaps the best cultural advertisement for law school since To Kill a Mockingbird. Buting and Strang are unfailingly brilliant, compassionate, and fiercely competent. If you should ever stand trial for a terrible crime (of which you, we hope, are innocent), these are exactly the people you’d want fighting on your side.
An author and adjunct professor as well as a practicing attorney, Strang in particular has become the object of widespread admiration, compared by his fans to Kyle Chandler’s Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights, Peter Gallagher’s Sandy Cohen from The O.C., and even a young Stephen Colbert. Throughout the series, Strang is prone to casually tossing out epigraph-worthy observations like “Redemption will have to wait, as it so often does in human affairs.”