“Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal,” which debuted on Netflix while Alex Murdaugh’s trial went on, will undoubtedly profit from its currentness, but this three-part production isn’t as gripping as its topic. The project has a sloppily feel from beginning to finish since it relies nearly exclusively on people involved to narrate the tale, and it finds that the younger group in particular makes poor narrators of what happened.
In fact, if ever a true-crime docuseries would have benefited from having a narrator, it’s this one; instead, the producers let the group of friends who were caught up in the tragic boat accident that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach drone on, enhancing their accounts with hazy reenactments that appear to be taken from a cheap horror film.
The murders of Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie, which led to the prosecution of his father and Maggie’s husband, Alex, are impliedly referenced in the title “Murdaugh Murders,” although given the way the episodes are written, that’s more or less an afterthought. The first two sections instead concentrate on the boat catastrophe.
The Murdaugh family, owing to father Alex, a well-connected South Carolina lawyer, is believed to have used its riches and influence over the authorities to protect Paul, who often drank excessively while driving the boat, according to others who were on board.
Other discrepancies and allegations about instances where the Murdaughs were accused of avoiding investigation in the face of suspicious events, such as the death of a housekeeper and nanny named Gloria Satterfield, are revealed as more information is revealed. They claimed that Gloria Satterfield was seriously hurt when the family dog caused her to fall down a flight of stairs.
Paul’s girlfriend Morgan Doughty, Mallory Beach’s pals Miley Altman and Connor Cook, and Mallory’s lover Anthony Cook are among the prominent people that are interviewed in “Murdaugh Murders.” Nevertheless, the most enlightening material comes from Mark Tinsley, a lawyer representing Beach’s family, who presents proof of instances in which the Murdaughs allegedly got preferential treatment from the authorities. This extends beyond Paul escaping punishment for the catastrophic boating accident.
Having a docuseries ready to go as Alex Murdaugh’s trial dominates headlines falls squarely into that category even though it is, by its very nature, chasing a moving target. Based on the success Netflix has enjoyed with the true-crime genre, often built around family tragedies, having a docuseries ready to go at the right time is sometimes all that is necessary. In the end, “Murdaugh Murders” doesn’t really provide a compelling reason to watch it.