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Netflix’s American Murder: The Family Next Door Hit A Streaming Milestone

American Murder: The Family Next Door shot from wedding

Never let it be said that people don't love a good murder. While fictional stories of crime certainly interest most people in TV and film, sometimes it's the true stories of terrible acts that can really grab hold of people's interest. Such is apparently the case with the new Netflix documentary film American Murder: The Family Next Door, as the movie is apparently on its way to becoming the most-watched documentary film in the history of Netflix.

Netflix dropped some viewership numbers on a number of the streaming services recent original products and among them comes the fact that American Murder: The Family Next Door Hit a film about the 2018 murders of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters, is on track to see 52 million views by the end of its first four weeks, which will be the most for a movie of its kind.

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52 million views in a month is nothing to sneeze at, to be sure. Of course, with Netflix it needs to be remembered that while there was a time when you had to watch the majority of a TV show or movie for it to count as a "view" that hasn't been the case for some time. Now, Netflix counts views after you've watched two minutes of the item, just enough to be sure you didn't press the button by accident, and then it counts. So it's possible that after the end of 28 days 52 million may have started American Murder, that doesn't mean that many people have actually seen it.

On the one hand, it's a remarkable way to put together a documentary as it's made-up entirely of actual video footage of the people involved in the terrible story. It's all first hand footage, not simply a series of interview or reenactments. On the one hand, that might make the story that much more compelling for the viewers watching at home. Either that, or it's going to make everything far too real and potentially upsetting for viewers who might want to at least give themselves the myth of distance.

Documentary films, as well as documentary series like Making a Murderer have proven successful for Netflix, and most other streaming services, with the exception of Disney+ I guess, have joined the trend with their own options covering true crime events, serial killers, and whatever other twisted parts of the human condition might entice viewers. If nothing else this sort of production usually gives the story closure as the guilty party is usually known. Unlike something like Unsolved Mysteries, which by its very nature gives us stories that are missing resolution.

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Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.