Two weeks after its release, social media is still buzzing about the new Netflix true crime documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door. The movie traces the case of the 2018 Watts family murders in Frederick, Colorado, where Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts and their daughters — 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. These horrifying crimes have viewers talking online, although many don't know what to say.
American Murder: The Family Next Door uses archival footage, social media posts, law enforcement footage and text messages to share the story of the Watts family murders. The 82-minute documentary hit Netflix on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and has consistently drawn eyes ever since. At the time of this writing, the movie is number 6 overall in Netflix's "Top 10 Movies in the U.S. Today" list.
The true crime genre has seen a huge surge in popularity recently, but even in a crowded field, The Family Next Door stands out. The story is distinct for its subjects' particularly heinous crimes, and his apparent disregard for the lives of his family. At the same time, many viewers praised it for centering the victims in the narrative, rather than the killer.
Netflix releases little data on how well its productions perform, but three weeks in it seems clear that this documentary is on track to be one of its most popular ever. Here is a look at what people are saying about American Murder: The Family Next Door.
I think it was disgusting how well he was treated but I’m hoping they felt as sick to the stomach and that he was vile too and that they were just trying to ease as much info out as possible— Rebecca Daniels (@beccanatsci) October 17, 2020
White people truly live in a different world.— Maya Angelique👑 (@moneyymaya) October 16, 2020
Watching “American Murder: The Family Next door.” While this tragedy is disgusting and horrific, I do have to take a moment to share my frustration at the blatant “sympathy” and “care” these officers treat the murderous Chris Watts. A black person would NEVER get this. EVER. pic.twitter.com/CzDQdWHRM1— Ashley (@AshhHuntington) October 11, 2020
Many viewers' overwhelming impression of the documentary was of the immense privilege with which the murderer was treated. They noted how law enforcement seemed to give him the benefit of the doubt at every turn, and guessed that a non-white person would not have gotten the same treatment.prevnext
netflix crime docummentaries to watch bc spooky szn:— bones (@symonealysek) October 16, 2020
the trials of gabriel fernandez
the disappearance of madeline mccann
American murder: the family next door
the mind of aaron hernandez
jeffery epstein: filthy rich
For some viewers, true crime is a seasonal pick leading up to Halloween, and this documentary made the list.prevnext
Just finished the docu American Murderer the family next door on Netflix. This one is too much.
Shocked.— Mounia | P-Rep ICONPLUS (@Mounia_NL) October 17, 2020
American Murder: The Family Next Door documentary on Netflix is MESSED UP I am so sick to my stomach what a JOKE of a “man”— loren (@lorensfulks) October 18, 2020
Some viewers could do little but share their visceral reactions to the documentary, which left them mentally and physically stunned.prevnext
watching the american murderer: the family next door and I gotta say men ain’t shit— ¹ᴰmae ☼ (@itookapanga) October 19, 2020
Tw!!//death, murder— Maya Angelique👑 (@moneyymaya) October 16, 2020
Just watched that american murder family next door documentary and it honestly makes me never wanna get married. Men can be so evil omg.
True crime fans can't ignore the pattern of men murdering their wives in many of these documentaries, and in this case the outrage was strong enough to scare many away from marriage in general. More than a few commenters said that they would think twice about marrying at all if a seemingly normal man like Chris Watts could turn out to be a murderer.prevnext
just watched “american murder: the family next door” on netflix and it’s so unsettling how calm chris watts was hours after killing his entire family. also anyone who defends him saying his wife drove him to what he did is a piece of shit.— alexis (@RobertsAlexis02) October 17, 2020
Many commenters posted angry rebukes for anyone "defending" Watts, although few defenses of him could be found on social media. For the most part, viewers were surprised and horrified by the reality of his crime.prevnext
I love how Netflix did this. It’s like they came from the point of view of the victims lives lost instead of the killers point of view. Watching the children on live video makes their lives real. I think that’s what important they are more than a headline.— Ann Marie Chao (@amchow14) October 14, 2020
Viewers praised the filmmakers for centering the victims in the documentary rather than their killer. They compared it to other true crime documentaries, arguing that it was less exploitative and more sympathetic.prevnext
i really recommend looking into this case, but only if you aren’t triggered or scared easily. chris watts is scociopathic loser. https://t.co/QFNuoMl9tC— kylie johnson (@kylieejohnson17) October 16, 2020
Finally, many users warned their followers that this documentary was not for those who would be triggered by depictions of extreme violence. Even while praising the documentary, they noted that it should come with a major trigger warning where applicable.prev