Netflix’s true crime documentary, “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal,” was released on Feb. 22. The three-part series reveals the life of Alex Murdaugh, a powerful S.C. lawyerwho abused his political power. His life was a picture of the American dream until a series of events led to his decline.
Netflix takes viewers into the personal lives of the Murdaugh family, revealing wealth and privilege being abused by a family in power. Directors Julia Willoughby Nason and Jennifer Furst left viewers to make their own conclusion about Alex Murdaugh.
The Murdaughs have been known for their successful law firm in Hampton, S.C. since 1910. The generation of Murdaughs were powerful attorneys and a respected law firm. Alex’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather shared the legacy as state prosecutors as well. The family legacy crumbled after a series of deaths that occurred over the course of six years.
Netflix timed the series perfectly to the five-week trial against Alex Murdaugh, who has been found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife Margaret, 57, and son Paul, 19.
However, the series did not discuss the recent trial that has dominated national headlines but revealed detailed information about the family’s life and events that took place leading up to the double homicide. The series also reveals every insurance and wire fraud Murdaugh committed. The funds were meant for beneficiaries but were funneled into his personal account instead.
Each episode uses actors to reenact all the incidents that occurred. Viewers were able to see police body cameras and security camera footage of each incident. These included personal interviews with those close to the family, clips of actual news segments and 911 calls that were recorded.
The first episode, “Where’s Mallory?” covers the beginning of the Murdaugh scandal. The series begins on board the Murdaugh family boat with several teenagers, when Mallory Beach, 19, is killed in the boat crash. The series reveals reenactment footage and interviews from the night Paul crashed the boat into Archers Creek Bridge, causing Beach to fall overboard. Beach was found dead a week later. During the episode, survivors reflect on the boat crash and the troubles of Murdaughs youngest son Paul. He had been drinking heavily and refused to let anyone else drive.
The suspicion of the Murdaugh family started with the mysterious death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith in 2015, who was found lying dead in the middle of the road miles from his truck. In the series, police suggested that Smith’s death was a homicide but the case was closed revealing a hit-and-run.
Smith’s death was connected to the Murdaughs by rumors of an intimate relationship with Murdaugh’s oldest son Buster. According to the interviews, the Murdaugh family did not approve of the relationship.
The series also included the mysterious death of Gloria Satterfield, the family’s long-time housekeeper who died after tripping over the family’s dog and falling down the stairs, resulting in several injuries that ultimately led to her death. The series revealed how Murdaugh told Satterfield’s family that he would file a wrongful death lawsuit and give the settlement money to them, but the Sattersfields never saw the money, raising the question of the nature of her death.
Netflix gathered all the sources needed to tell an informed and comprehensive tale of generational power and corruption. Viewers watched an influential family caught in a tangled web of lies and deception. Netflix provided their viewers with an excellent overview of the sandal, including the legacy they had in S.C.