The Staircase is a miniseries primarily based on the true story surrounding the mysterious loss of life of Kathleen Peterson, whose physique was discovered on the backside of a staircase in her North Carolina residence again in 2001. Her husband, Michael Peterson, a well-known novelist, was accused of her homicide and subsequently convicted in 2003. The miniseries was produced by and can stream on HBO Max.

One of the miniseries’ creators and writers is American filmmaker Antonio Campos who directed some artsy and critically acclaimed dramatic thrillers equivalent to Simon Killer, Afterschool, and The Devil All the Time. The Staircase is a dramatic take on a docuseries by the identical title which premiered again in 2004, simply three years after Kathleen’s loss of life and one 12 months after Michael’s conviction. The present instantiation of the story consists of the affect of the taping and creation of the docuseries on the Peterson household. While the miniseries is predicated on a real story, there are certain to be some inventive deviations and gildings on the reality, however as an viewers, we already understand how the story ends.


Let’s first dive into the true story behind the plot and the whole lot we learn about The Staircase.

The Real Story

On the evening of December 9, 2001, Michael Peterson referred to as in an emergency that he had discovered his spouse on the foot of the steps of their North Carolina residence. He claimed that she had been consuming and had taken a Valium, which can have led to her shedding her stability and falling down the steps. While crime scene investigators decided that the blood splatters might have been in line with the reported fall, Kathleen Peterson additionally had a number of numerous accidents that such an occasion couldn’t clarify. These additional accidents have been constant as a substitute with bodily assault. These details, coupled with reported marital issues between the couple, made Michael Peterson the prime suspect in his spouse’s homicide.

During the investigation and trial, it was uncovered {that a} good friend of the Peterson’s, Elizabeth Ratliff, died in an virtually similar trend in Germany in 1985. Her physique was then exhumed for a second post-mortem related with the case. While there was no strategy to hyperlink Ratliff’s loss of life to Michael Peterson, the prosecutors did use her surprisingly comparable loss of life as a boilerplate that he used to mimic and pretend Kathleen’s loss of life.

In 2003, Michael Peterson was convicted of his spouse’s homicide and sentenced to life in jail. However, seven years later, after reviews of withholding and misrepresentation of proof emerged, Peterson was launched on home arrest all through a retrial. In 2017, his sentence was diminished to 86 months in jail, but he turned a free man since he had already served greater than that.

Trailer Breakdown

It is unclear from the trailer how far into this lengthy and complicated story the miniseries follows, however it does give us some clues about what elements of the story will probably be represented.

The trailer opens with a montage of scenes juxtaposing a household entrenched in happiness and turmoil, scenes of smiling and dancing blended with scenes of inaudible screaming and crying. Over this montage, we hear the character of Michael Peterson (Colin Firth) say, “I think there are not many families like us.” Then it cuts to a scene of the whole household seated across the dinner desk as Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette) toasts to “so many better days ahead.” The trailer sarcastically and dramatically shifts tone as Michael tells an emergency dispatcher that his spouse “had an accident” and “she fell down the stairs.”

As the trailer proceeds, we see glimpses of the forensic investigation, together with a nod to the doctoring of proof as an investigator is heard telling an post-mortem physician his homicide idea and “make any adjustments you see fit.” We additionally see the plotline of the French documentarians who created the unique The Staircase detailing the occasions behind the investigation and trial. The trailer additional reveals the storyline of the same loss of life, connection, and exhumation of Elizabeth Ratliff.

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The trailer hints that the miniseries won’t be in a linear timeline and as a substitute will soar backwards and forwards within the narrative of earlier than and after Kathleen’s loss of life. It appears that as proof is unearthed and revelations within the investigation and trial are made, the viewers can even be seeing the details play out in flashbacks.

Overall, the trailer reveals that whereas this miniseries will concentrate on the loss of life and subsequent courtroom trial that the Petersons went via, it delves deep into the internal workings and dysfunction of a fractured and untrusting household. Dialogue between the Peterson youngsters is proven within the trailer as they attempt to make sense of what’s occurring to them and the doubt a few of them begin to have about their father’s innocence. One of the daughters is heard telling her sister to “stop questioning everything,” which is met by an adamant repetition of “I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!”

The trailer concludes with extra reduce scenes of the household in misery, together with tense glares, crying, and violent blows. Michael Peterson’s conflicting narration says, “I think there are not many families like us. We’re not perfect, but we stick together. And we love each other.”

The Cast

Colin Firth performs the main function of Michael Peterson. Since the actual Michael Peterson remains to be alive and his guilt or innocence in his spouse’s loss of life remains to be a thriller, it’s pure to imagine that Firth might have related with Peterson earlier than filming. However, in keeping with Deadline, Firth by no means communicated along with his topic. Even although the miniseries is predicated on a real story, the writers crafted it in a selected strategy to evoke a selected temper, and Firth felt speaking to Peterson would possibly detract from the honesty in his performing of the half as written. “I felt that I wanted to keep my inspiration, my motivation, and the sense of the source material, as much as possible contained within the script and the way it was written,” Firth mentioned.

Related: Sophie Turner Returns to HBO for True Crime Series The Staircase

The miniseries additionally stars Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson, Rosemarie DeWitt as Candace Hunt Zamperini, Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet, Parker Posey as Freda Black, Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff, and Odessa Young as Martha Ratliff.

Release Date

The Staircase is an eight-part miniseries co-produced by HBO Max and Annapurna TV. Parts one, two, and three are all set to premiere on May 5, 2022. Then every following episode will probably be launched weekly, culminating on June 9, 2022.

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