‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’ spent much of its production time in limbo.
Kate and Gerry McCann themselves wanted to have nothing to do with the latest Netflix true crime series and the show itself spent time as a one episode special, a full documentary series, and on the brink of being scrapped altogether before it found its way onto our screens. Despite this Netflix powered through and dutifully delivered an eight part documentary of the timeline, as we know it, on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Unfortunately this labour has not come from a passion for great documentaries or a burning urge to get the truth out to the public. Instead Netflix’s newest show seems to be little more than a cynical cash in on the true crime series and the disappearance of a little British girl in Portugal over ten years ago.
The show kicks off with two incredibly bloated opening episodes detailing the first hours of Madeleine’s disappearance. But it also uses this time to catch its viewers up on the relatively unrelated history of tourism in the Algarve for twenty minutes and the detailed lives, loves, and ambitions of journalists who happened to be in the area at the time, amongst other tangents that feel designed to pad time as opposed to inform the viewer. At one point the entire McCann family drop from focus for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking the documentary was about the Portuguese countryside and not the abduction of a small girl.
Since Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” launched the true crime genre into new heights of popularity, people have been asking what justifies making a profitable documentary off of the suffering of others. The usual replies; bringing an old case back into public light, the offering of new facts or an interesting point of view, educating and raising public awareness, all seem irrelevant to Netflix’s most recent attempt at cashing in on a family who have been ripped apart.
The McCann’s themselves were quick to point this out in response to the documentary series, stating that they not only saw no value in what the series brought to the search for their missing daughter but also feared that “it could potentially hinder it”. Gerry and Kate McCann (as the documentary points out) have spent the last decade trying to keep their daughter’s name in the public eye in hopes that this will increase the likelihood of finding her; so the parents deciding to turn their backs on this series should be a huge indicator to the rest of us that it’s just not worth our time.
“The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann” was undoubtedly a mistake. If you enjoy the same shots and interview clips being repeated dozens of times, or wild speculation on what people who may or may not have been near the crime at the time may or may not have looked like, or exploitative and bloated media cashing in on the disappearance of a small child without giving anything productive or informative back: this is the series for you.
If, however, you would rather be informed on the case of Madeleine McCann, there is almost no valuable information on the show that can’t be acquired from a cursory glance at a Wikipedia page. And there is certainly no information in the series that can’t be attained elsewhere, without lining the pockets of people who would seek to profit off the disappearance of a little girl.