How To Watch The Staircase


Background Information on The Staircase

The Staircase is a true crime documentary series that explores the intriguing and controversial case of Michael Peterson, a novelist from Durham, North Carolina, who was accused of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson in 2001. The case gained significant media attention due to its mysterious circumstances and the subsequent trial that kept viewers on the edge of their seats.

The series first premiered in 2004 with eight episodes, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. It captivated audiences with its in-depth exploration of the events surrounding Kathleen’s death, the ensuing investigation, and the court proceedings that followed.

What sets The Staircase apart from other crime documentaries is its unprecedented access to Peterson’s defense team and the prosecutors, providing viewers with a unique perspective into the legal strategies, the presentation of evidence, and the emotional rollercoaster experienced by both the accused and the victim’s family.

Throughout the series, viewers are taken on a journey, delving into the complex dynamics of the Peterson family, uncovering secrets, and raising the question of whether Michael Peterson is truly guilty or innocent.

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Staircase is the ambiguity surrounding Kathleen’s death. Was it a tragic accident, as Peterson claims, or was there foul play involved? The staircase becomes a central symbol, both literally and metaphorically, representing the tragic events that unfolded on that fateful night and the ongoing quest for justice.

The Staircase has garnered critical acclaim for its gripping storytelling, compelling interviews, and the way it challenges our perception of innocence and guilt. It has become a cornerstone of the true crime genre and has influenced countless other documentaries and television shows in its wake.

As we delve deeper into The Staircase, we will explore the various episodes, theories, controversies, and legal aspects that make this documentary series a must-watch for true crime enthusiasts and anyone intrigued by the intricacies of the human mind.

Understanding the True Crime Genre

The true crime genre has experienced a surge of popularity in recent years, captivating audiences around the world. But what exactly is true crime, and why does it hold such fascination for so many people?

True crime refers to non-fictional stories that focus on real-life criminal activities, often involving heinous crimes, unsolved mysteries, and the quest for justice. These stories can take the form of books, documentaries, podcasts, and even television shows.

One of the reasons for the appeal of true crime is the insight it provides into the human psyche and the darker aspects of human behavior. People are inherently drawn to stories that explore the depths of human nature, examining the motivations behind criminal acts and the psychology of both the perpetrators and the victims.

True crime narratives also offer a sense of suspense and mystery. They keep us on the edge of our seats as we follow the twists and turns of the investigation and the legal proceedings. We become armchair detectives, analyzing the evidence and forming our own theories about what really happened.

Furthermore, true crime stories often shed light on flaws within the justice system. They expose the fallibility of law enforcement, the complexities of investigations, and the sometimes murky waters of the courtroom. By examining these flaws, true crime enthusiasts hope to bring attention to potential injustices and advocate for reform.

In recent years, the popularity of true crime has been fueled by the rise of streaming platforms and technology. People can now access an abundance of true crime content at their fingertips, consuming it at their own pace and immersing themselves in the details of each case.

However, it is important to approach the true crime genre with sensitivity and respect for the victims and their families. Sensationalizing or glorifying crime can diminish the human tragedy and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Responsible consumption of true crime involves balancing our curiosity with empathy for those affected by the crimes.

With this understanding of the true crime genre, we can delve into The Staircase, a documentary series that epitomizes the captivating and thought-provoking nature of this genre. As we explore the case of Michael Peterson and the events surrounding his wife’s death, we gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities and ethical considerations inherent in true crime storytelling.

Overview of The Staircase Documentary Series

The Staircase is a gripping documentary series that follows the case of Michael Peterson, a novelist accused of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson. Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, this true crime masterpiece takes viewers on an intense journey through the investigation, trial, and aftermath of the case.

The series offers a comprehensive and in-depth look at the events surrounding Kathleen’s death. From the initial shock and confusion to the mounting evidence, every aspect of the case is examined with meticulous detail. Through interviews with key players, including Michael Peterson and his defense team, as well as prosecutors and forensic experts, The Staircase provides a well-rounded perspective on the complex legal battle.

What sets The Staircase apart from other crime documentaries is its unprecedented access and raw honesty. Director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade was granted remarkable behind-the-scenes access to the defense team, capturing the emotional toll faced by Peterson, his family, and his legal counsel. The series does not shy away from showcasing the human side of the story, making it all the more compelling and relatable.

The Staircase is not just a mere retelling of events. It is a captivating exploration of truth, justice, and the complexities of the legal system. As viewers, we are challenged to examine our preconceived notions of guilt and innocence, as new evidence and startling revelations emerge throughout the series. The narrative unfolds like a mesmerizing mystery, keeping us engaged and eagerly awaiting each episode.

Beyond the captivating storytelling, The Staircase raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of trust in institutions, the fallibility of memory and perception, and the ways in which the legal system grapples with complex cases. It serves as a powerful examination of the inherent biases and flaws that can shape the outcomes of criminal proceedings.

With its powerful storytelling and rich character development, The Staircase has become a landmark in the true crime genre. It has not only entertained audiences but also sparked conversations and debates about the nature of justice, the role of media in shaping public opinion, and the impact of documentary filmmaking on the legal landscape.

As we delve deeper into The Staircase, we will unravel the twists and turns of this compelling documentary series, examining its impact on the true crime genre and delving into the various theories and controversies it presents. Strap in for an enthralling exploration of a case that continues to captivate and divide audiences worldwide.

Where to Watch The Staircase

If you’re eager to dive into the captivating world of The Staircase, you might be wondering where you can watch this gripping documentary series. Here are the various platforms where you can find The Staircase:

  1. Netflix: The Staircase is available for streaming on Netflix, making it easily accessible to a wide range of viewers. You can watch the entire series and immerse yourself in the enigmatic case of Michael Peterson.
  2. Amazon Prime Video: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can also watch The Staircase on Amazon Prime Video. Simply log in to your account and search for the series to start watching.
  3. Hulu: Hulu subscribers can enjoy The Staircase as part of their subscription. The series is available for streaming on the platform, allowing you to follow the case from start to finish.
  4. YouTube: Some episodes of The Staircase may be available to rent or purchase on YouTube. Check the platform to see if the series is available in your region.
  5. Physical Media: If you prefer to own a physical copy of The Staircase, you can find it on DVD or Blu-ray. These formats allow you to have a permanent copy of the series in your collection, ready to watch whenever you desire.

It’s important to note that the availability of The Staircase may vary depending on your location and the streaming platforms available in your country. If you cannot access the series on the platforms mentioned above, consider exploring other streaming services or checking with your local libraries or video rental stores.

Now that you know where to watch The Staircase, grab your popcorn, find a comfortable spot, and prepare to embark on a mesmerizing journey filled with true crime, suspense, and the quest for justice.

The Staircase Episode Guide

The Staircase is a documentary series that consists of multiple episodes, each offering a deeper insight into the case of Michael Peterson and the events surrounding his wife’s death. Here’s a breakdown of the episodes that make up The Staircase:

  1. Episode 1: Crime or Accident? This episode introduces us to the Peterson family and the shocking discovery of Kathleen Peterson’s lifeless body at the bottom of the staircase. It sets the stage for the investigation and the beginning of the legal proceedings.
  2. Episode 2: Secrets and Lies As the investigation unfolds, Episode 2 delves into the complexities of the case, exploring the secrets and possible motives that could have led to Kathleen’s death. It raises intriguing questions and introduces key players in the story.
  3. Episode 3: A Striking Coincidence This episode focuses on a striking coincidence that emerges during the investigation, adding another layer of mystery to the case. Viewers are left pondering the significance of this revelation and its potential impact on the trial.
  4. Episode 4: A Prosecution’s Burden In Episode 4, the prosecution begins presenting its case against Michael Peterson. The episode highlights the strategies employed by the prosecution, as well as their efforts to convince the jury of Peterson’s guilt.
  5. Episode 5: An Owl Theory This episode introduces a controversial theory that suggests an owl might be involved in Kathleen’s death. This theory adds a unique twist to the case and becomes a topic of debate among experts and the public.
  6. Episode 6: Circumstantial Evidence As the trial progresses, Episode 6 examines the circumstantial evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. Viewers are challenged to evaluate the strength of this evidence and its implications for Peterson’s innocence or guilt.
  7. Episode 7: The Verdict In this pivotal episode, the trial reaches its climax as the jury delivers its verdict. Viewers are kept on the edge of their seats, waiting to learn the fate of Michael Peterson and whether justice will be served.
  8. Episode 8: Revisiting The Staircase The final episode of the series takes us beyond the trial, offering a glimpse into the aftermath and the ongoing impact of the case on the lives of the Peterson family and those involved. It provides a sense of closure while leaving viewers with lingering questions.

Each episode of The Staircase offers its own unique perspective, uncovering new evidence, and presenting fresh insights into the case. As you watch the series, you’ll be immersed in a gripping narrative that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.

Episode Breakdown and Analysis

The Staircase takes viewers on a compelling journey through the complex case of Michael Peterson. Each episode offers a breakdown of the evidence, legal strategies, and key moments that shape the narrative. Let’s analyze the episodes and their significance in unraveling the truth behind Kathleen Peterson’s death:

  1. Episode 1: Crime or Accident? In the first episode, the discovery of Kathleen’s body sets the stage for the investigation and introduces us to the initial theories surrounding her death. It raises questions about whether the incident was an accident or a crime, setting the tone for the series.
  2. Episode 2: Secrets and Lies Episode 2 delves into the secrets and possible motives that could have led to Kathleen’s death. It explores the complexities of the Peterson family dynamic and introduces characters who may hold crucial information. This episode highlights the importance of understanding the human element in true crime cases.
  3. Episode 3: A Striking Coincidence This episode centers around a striking coincidence that emerges during the investigation. It presents a pivotal moment that could potentially shift the course of the case. The revelation raises questions about the reliability of evidence and the impact it may have on the trial.
  4. Episode 4: A Prosecution’s Burden As the trial begins, Episode 4 focuses on the prosecution’s efforts to build a strong case against Michael Peterson. It examines the strategies employed by the prosecution and the burden they face in proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  5. Episode 5: An Owl Theory In a surprising turn, Episode 5 introduces the controversial “owl theory” that suggests an animal might have played a role in Kathleen’s death. This theory challenges the conventional narrative and showcases the importance of considering alternative explanations and perspectives in criminal investigations.
  6. Episode 6: Circumstantial Evidence Episode 6 delves into the presentation of circumstantial evidence by both the prosecution and the defense. It examines the impact of this type of evidence on the jurors and raises questions about the strength of the case against Michael Peterson.
  7. Episode 7: The Verdict As the trial reaches its climax, Episode 7 builds up the suspense and anticipation around the jury’s verdict. It showcases the emotional journey of the Peterson family and captures the courtroom drama that culminates in the final decision.
  8. Episode 8: Revisiting The Staircase The final episode provides closure while inviting viewers to reflect on the case and its impact. It revisits key moments, offers post-trial analysis, and leaves room for introspection. This episode prompts viewers to question their own perceptions and attitudes towards the criminal justice system.

Analysis and exploration of each episode in The Staircase paints a vivid picture of the complex and controversial case. The series challenges us to analyze the evidence, consider alternative theories, and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the legal system. It serves as a reminder of the profound impact that one tragic event can have on the lives of those involved and on society as a whole.

Theories and Controversies Surrounding The Staircase

The Staircase is not just a straightforward examination of a murder case; it is also filled with theories and controversies that spark intense debate among viewers and experts alike. Throughout the series, several key theories and contentious aspects emerge, adding complexity and intrigue to the narrative. Let’s explore some of the theories and controversies surrounding The Staircase:

1. Accidental Fall vs. Homicide: One of the major areas of contention in The Staircase is whether Kathleen’s death was the result of an accidental fall down the stairs or a deliberate act of homicide. Viewers are presented with evidence and arguments supporting both scenarios, leaving them to form their own interpretations of what truly transpired.

2. The Owl Theory: The introduction of the owl theory in the series caused a significant stir among viewers. This theory suggests that Kathleen’s injuries could have been caused by an owl attack rather than by a human perpetrator. Advocates of the owl theory argue that it offers a plausible explanation for the lacerations found on Kathleen’s scalp.

3. Blood Spatter Analysis: Blood spatter analysis plays a critical role in the case, and differing interpretations of the blood patterns create controversy. Some experts argue that the bloodstains indicate a violent assault, supporting the theory of homicide, while others suggest that they can be explained by the fall down the stairs and subsequent attempts to help Kathleen.

4. Bias and Tunnel Vision: The Staircase explores the issue of bias and tunnel vision within the investigation and prosecution. Critics argue that law enforcement and the prosecution focused solely on building a case against Michael Peterson without fully considering alternative theories or thoroughly examining all the evidence.

5. The Role of Media: The involvement of the media, both local and national, is a significant point of controversy in the series. The Staircase raises questions about media bias, sensationalism, and its impact on public perception of the case and the individuals involved.

6. The Cultural Divide: The case and the trial in The Staircase expose the cultural divide within the community and the courtroom. The defense argues that Michael Peterson was unfairly targeted due to societal biases, while the prosecution contends that the evidence points to his guilt.

The theories and controversies surrounding The Staircase continue to be the subject of intense discussion and analysis. Each viewer may form their own opinions based on the available evidence and their interpretation of the events presented. The ongoing debates surrounding the case only serve to underscore the complexity and enduring fascination of this remarkable true crime documentary series.

The Legal System and The Staircase

The Staircase not only shines a spotlight on the case itself but also provides a thought-provoking exploration of the legal system and its impact on the outcome. Throughout the series, various aspects of the legal process come under scrutiny, raising questions about its fairness, flaws, and the complexities surrounding high-profile trials. Let’s examine the role of the legal system in The Staircase:

1. Presumption of Innocence: The Staircase emphasizes the importance of the presumption of innocence, a fundamental principle of the legal system. Michael Peterson is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and his defense team seeks to challenge the prosecution’s case at every turn.

2. Burden of Proof: The burden of proof falls on the prosecution to demonstrate Michael Peterson’s guilt. The Staircase highlights the prosecution’s efforts to present a convincing case, while the defense examines the evidence and seeks to create doubt in the minds of the jurors.

3. Expert Witnesses: Expert witnesses play a crucial role in the trial, offering their professional opinions on critical aspects of the case. The Staircase showcases the reliance on forensic experts, blood spatter analysts, and other specialists, whose competing testimonies contribute to the complexities and challenges of determining the truth.

4. Courtroom Drama: The courtroom scenes in The Staircase provide a dramatic portrayal of the adversarial nature of the legal system. The series highlights the strategies employed by both the prosecution and the defense, including the presentation of evidence, cross-examinations, and closing arguments, all designed to persuade the jury.

5. Media and Public Opinion: The Staircase delves into the influence of media and its impact on public opinion. It raises questions about the fairness of trials in the age of instant communication, as media coverage can shape public perception, potentially affecting the outcome of a trial.

6. Appeals and Legal Process: The series touches on the lengthy and complex legal process, including the possibility of appeals. It showcases the efforts made by the defense team to uncover new evidence and challenge the original verdict, highlighting the ongoing nature of the legal battle.

The Staircase raises important considerations about the strengths and weaknesses of the legal system. It prompts viewers to reflect on issues such as impartiality, the pursuit of justice, and the potential impact of bias and procedural challenges on the outcome of trials. By shedding light on the intricacies of the legal process, The Staircase invites us to critically examine the fairness and efficacy of the system that plays a pivotal role in our pursuit of justice.

Similar Documentaries to Watch

If you’ve enjoyed delving into the compelling world of The Staircase, there are several other true crime documentaries that you might find equally captivating. Here are some recommendations to satisfy your true crime craving:

1. Making a Murderer: This highly acclaimed Netflix series delves into the strange and controversial case of Steven Avery, a man from Wisconsin who was convicted of murder. The documentary explores the flaws in the criminal justice system and raises questions about wrongful convictions.

2. The Jinx: If you’re fascinated by true crime and groundbreaking storytelling, The Jinx is a must-watch. This HBO documentary series examines the life of Robert Durst, a member of a wealthy family who is suspected of multiple crimes, including murder. The Jinx offers unexpected twists and turns that will leave you questioning everything.

3. Serial: Although not a documentary series, Serial is a groundbreaking podcast that investigates a true crime case in each season. The first season focuses on the murder of Hae Min Lee, while the subsequent seasons tackle different cases. Serial captivates listeners with its in-depth reporting and immersive storytelling.

4. The Thin Blue Line: Directed by Errol Morris, this influential documentary reexamines the case of Randall Adams, who was convicted of a murder he claims he didn’t commit. The Thin Blue Line challenges the criminal justice system and highlights the power of documentary filmmaking in shedding light on wrongful convictions.

5. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills: This documentary trilogy explores the case of the West Memphis Three, teenage boys who were convicted of the brutal murders of three young boys. Paradise Lost delves into the questionable evidence, the role of media, and the fight for justice in this haunting true crime story.

6. Evil Genius: If you’re intrigued by unconventional crime stories, Evil Genius is a fascinating documentary series to check out. It examines the bizarre case of the “pizza bomber” in Erie, Pennsylvania, and the strange individuals involved in the crime, creating a captivating narrative that keeps you guessing until the very end.

These are just a few examples of true crime documentaries that are similar in theme and tone to The Staircase. Each one offers unique perspectives, captivating storytelling, and thought-provoking investigations into the darker sides of humanity. So, grab your favorite snack, get comfortable, and embark on a journey into the fascinating world of true crime with these gripping documentaries.

Recommended Books and Podcasts on The Staircase

If you’re looking to dive deeper into the case of The Staircase, here are some recommended books and podcasts that offer additional insights and analysis:


  1. The Staircase: The Untold History of Kathleen Peterson’s Death by Aphrodite Jones: This book provides a comprehensive account of the case, delving into the details of the investigation and trial. Jones offers her own analysis and explores different perspectives on the events surrounding Kathleen Peterson’s death.
  2. The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and its Astonishing Aftermath by Michael Griesbach: Although not directly focused on The Staircase, this book explores themes of wrongful conviction and the criminal justice system. It raises important questions about the role of evidence, bias, and the pursuit of justice.
  3. The Last Place You’d Look: True Stories of Missing Persons and the People Who Search for Them by Carole Moore: This book delves into missing persons cases, including some that have similarities to The Staircase. It examines the complexities of investigations, the impact on families, and the tireless efforts of those searching for the truth.


  1. Criminal: This true crime podcast covers a wide range of intriguing stories, including cases that explore the complexities of the criminal justice system. While not specific to The Staircase, Criminal offers compelling narratives that delve into the human side of crime and the pursuit of justice.
  2. Actual Innocence: Hosted by Brooke Gittings, Actual Innocence focuses on wrongful convictions and the stories of those who have been exonerated. The podcast examines the flaws in the legal system and raises important questions about how such injustices occur.
  3. Sword and Scale: Sword and Scale is a true crime podcast known for delving into the darker and more graphic aspects of criminal cases. While it covers a wide range of true crime stories, it may appeal to those who are interested in exploring the grisly details and psychological complexities that are often found in cases like The Staircase.

These books and podcasts provide valuable perspectives, analysis, and additional material to complement your exploration of The Staircase. They offer different angles on true crime, wrongful convictions, and the flaws of the legal system, giving you a well-rounded understanding of the complexities and controversies surrounding this captivating case.