Documentary: American Murder: The Family Next Door (Netflix)

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Documentary: American Murder: The Family Next Door (Netflix)
« on: October 03, 2020, 01:44:03 PM »
This is a documentary about the murders of Shannan Watts and her children by her husband.

It’s an interesting format in that there is no narration at all. It’s Facebook posts, text messages and police body/interview cams edited together.

This is another one of those “all women should watch this” resources.

It makes no judgment on why or what led him to murder his family, it just presents the videos etc., but for those of us with experience in this space it’s clear he has some kind of PD/Peter Pan complex and that she’s trying to get him to be something he simply isn’t.

In the text messages you see her twisting herself to explain away his behavior. There is a lot of “I will do better” “I know I drove him to do x because I’m y”.  When her behavior is really a reaction to the situation with him. There are also numerous times when she lets herself be talked out of her concerns by her friends. It’s clear she wanted him to be something he simply didn’t want to be and wasn’t capable of. You see him looking i very involved with the kids but its her that is doing the actual heavy lifting. 

The interesting thing to me is how men who murdered their families see them as “things” that are  easily disposed of. He really thought he’d kill his family and simply move on with the woman he was cheating on his wife and kids with.

He appears to have a lot of unresolved self-worth issues which his family pay the ultimate price for. This is typical of PDs.

One of the biggest takeaways for me is that you simply don’t know the truth behind what what people show you. She had a heavily curated FB presence. Looking at the posts juxtaposed against the texts she’s sending friends at the same time is heart breaking.

Another big takeaway for me is that even though I 100% knew going in that he was guilty he was just so very very convincing with his lies and protests of innocence. The lie detector scenes show an almost unbelievable amount of arrogance on his part. You can tell he genuinely  believed everyone would believe him, and honestly, he’s very believable.

There were so many things that jumped out at me but what stayed with me most is that in the first few minutes a neighbor comments on Chris’ demeanor saying he is acting jumpy and completely out of character. He points out that Chris never backs his car in to the garage like he did that morning. The policeman totally dismisses him, even though he is clearly uncomfortable being near Chris.

This film brought up a lot for me, mainly around how I never used to listen to my gut and how people have these expectations of how others  should behave and that’s how they act so that  is the place from which they give advice and support. Many people simply do not take the time and make the effort to genuinely understand the situation.  When she’s saying she’s sure there is someone else and lays out all her evidence her friend essentially said “he’s not that kind of man”. Well here is his wife, your friend, telling you she thinks he is and you just brush it off?

The film also briefly touches on an incident where Shannan’s MiL buys something that her daughter is very allergic too. When she gets upset she is seen as the problem. In the film numerous people say how his family never thought she was “good enough” for him, yet she’s the one who had all the success before the marriage and it seemed she as the one doing the work and holding the family together. PDs do not happen in a vacuum. Listening to his family, especially his mother, you can see where he gets his overblown sense of entitlement from.

It’s an interesting film that touches on so many of the issues we deal with here and I’d be interested to hear other perspectives on it.