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Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't watched Netflix's latest docu-series masterpiece, The Keepers.
An arguably unforeseen boon of modern society's constant state of interconnectivity has been the evolution of entertainment creators and audiences' potential for inciting justice, as evidenced in part by the legal follow-ups that came to the true crime series Making a Murderer. Netflix's latest docu-series, the potent and unflinching The Keepers, uses an unsolved Baltimore murder to unlock a sordid history of sexual abuse at a Catholic school, and when creator Ryan White spoke to CinemaBlend ahead of last week's big premiere, I asked what he hoped for the future of The Keepers. In his optimistic words:
I'm very happy with the seven-part series. I'm hopeful that once it's released, it's going to lead to a lot of movement and progress in Baltimore. We've already seen that in the last few weeks, when the Baltimore County police announced that they exhumed Father Maskell's body from his grave. So clearly the chatter that's going around in Baltimore right now is leading to real work on behalf of the Baltimore authorities, and for whatever reason, didn't happen for the last 45 years. They're having to unbury his body to get a DNA sample. Clearly in the 1990s, when Jean [Jane Doe] came forward and said he took her to see Cathy's body, they didn't believe her, I would assume, because they don't have a DNA sample from when he was alive. But we're seeing that kind of movement already, just since the trailer was released. So I have no plans to continue documenting it, but I'm totally invested and hoping for some justice for Cathy and also for all the people who have been a part of this, all the victims of sexual abuse in Baltimore.
If you've watched The Keepers, then you know that so much of what's shown during its 7-hour runtime (or so) is infuriating and disheartening to the point of vocal outrage, as it pulls the rug up from over an era of (alleged, I guess) heinousness that involved several members of the staff at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore. Along with an untold number of victims, of course. While pre-release buzz made the new series would put the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik at the forefront of The Keepers' episodes, the through-line was largely centered around Jean/Jane Doe, who serves as the unfortunate heroine of all these ugly events. If there is anything that gets released in 2017, or any other year, that deserves a massive breakthrough follow-up through widespread public interest, it's The Keepers.
It's definitely worth noting here that both the death of Sister Cath Cesnik and the rapes of multiple school students are still without any form of justice. Several different forms of monstrous atrocities went down in Baltimore, and while The Keepers does everything possible to shine a multitude of lights on it all, it's now up to others to take the story one step further.
Disappointing as it may be, Ryan White's choice to not continue documenting any further updates is completely understandable, since he's a successful feature documentarian with other creative irons in the fire. As well, The Keepers was a part of his and producer Jessica Hargrave's lives for an entire three years. (Check out what he told me about that process.) The project's roots were birthed from White's own aunt having been taught by Sister Cathy, and when I asked him if he had any inkling this particular project's development was going to explode the way it did, here's what he told me.
I had no idea how big this was going to become. You know, we began at a dining room table with Jean, and three years later, we had talked to -- on camera -- hundreds of people in Baltimore and outside of Baltimore. And the scary part, I think, is that's the tip of the iceberg. So we'll see what happens when the series comes out, but I already know that more information is flowing in from the release of the trailer, so I'm hopeful that the story continues to grow even after The Keepers comes out, and that growth can lead to answers.
If you know something, say something. And if you don't know anything, recommend the show to someone else. You can currently stream all seven episodes of The Keepers on Netflix right now. And when you're done with that emotionally debilitating binge session, check out everything else that's heading to the streaming giant with our 2017 Netflix schedule, and then get your primetime calendars set for the coming months with our summer premiere schedule.