The internet was ablaze with social media commentary and news coverage throughout the salacious six-week civil suit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard as the once-happily married couple ripped one another apart in court. On any given day there were more than one million live viewers tuning in making Law & Crime the most-viewed YouTube channel carrying the trial in real-time. In addition to the live court coverage, there were social media posts galore, some hilarious and others downright angry. Everyone, it seems, had an opinion and a side.
There were many facets of this particular case that fascinated people so much including the fact that two celebrities were at the center of the drama. It’s also interesting and terrifying that at some point, Depp and Heard were in love and happy. The marriage was short-lived, lasting just 15 months before Heard filed for divorce following their February 2015 nuptials.
How does love turn so dark? Relationships are very complicated with nearly 50% of all marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce or separation. Perhaps this case drew so much attention because so many can relate to the heartache at its center.
People are obsessed with true crime, the legal system and the disappointment of love gone bad. So, now that both parties in this high-profile celebrity case were found to have defamed the other, what will the “fans” watch now? Here are two true-crime series about the same controversial marriage that ended in tragedy. One is a documentary series featuring the actual people involved and the other is the scripted version with a top-notch cast. You can binge-watch both to fill the void now that the Depp-Heard courtroom drama is over.
The Staircase (Netflix)
This is the fascinating story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist accused of killing his wife Kathleen Peterson after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their Durham, North Carolina, mansion on December 9, 2001. This, too, is about a marriage that everyone at the time claimed was a happy one. Michael had secrets that would come out soon after his wife’s death but he would testify that his wife knew everything about him and that theirs was a good relationship.
Prosecutors argued Michael bludgeoned his wife to death and he claimed she fell after consuming alcohol and Valium. An autopsy concluded Kathleen died from multiple injuries, including blows to the back of her head with a blunt object. He spent years in prison before his conviction was overturned. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to the killing with a manslaughter charge and walked free with time served.
The 13-episode documentary series, which premiered on June 8, 2018, is streaming on Netflix
The Staircase (HBO Max)
In addition, HBO Max is airing the eight-episode scripted version starring Toni Collette as Kathleen alongside Colin Firth as Michael. The limited series premiered on May 5, 2022, and culminates on June 9, 2022, and follows as Michael becomes the prime and only suspect in his wife’s death as well as the ensuing murder investigation. His life as a respected Marine Corps. veteran, novelist, newspaper columnist and a mayoral candidate was torn apart when he was convicted of Kathleen’s murder in 2003. Was an innocent man sent to prison?
The limited series, co-produced by Annapurna Television, is written and executive-produced by showrunners Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn. Starring alongside Firth and Collette are Michael Stuhlbarg, Juliette Binoche, Dane DeHaan, Olivia DeJonge, Rosemarie DeWitt, Tim Guinee, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sophie Turner, Vincent Vermignon, Odessa Young and Parker Posey.