The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: Critics lambast Netflix documentary as 'exploitative' and 'morally bankrupt'

Clarisse Loughrey
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The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: Critics lambast Netflix documentary as 'exploitative' and 'morally bankrupt'

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: Critics lambast Netflix documentary as 'exploitative' and 'morally bankrupt'

Critics have lambasted Netflix‘s new documentary examining the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The Telegraph‘s Ed Power called The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann “crashingly turgid” and “exploitative filmmaking on auto-pilot“, stating it revealed that “the true crime genre has become prisoner to its crassest tendencies”.

For The Guardian, Lucy Mangan similarly called the series “a blatant cash-in on the vogue for the true-crime series“. She added: “It’s a feat of sorts, I suppose, to create something so morally and creatively bankrupt that your viewers would gain more insight into your case if they were to sit alone in a darkened room for 10 minutes to try to fathom the depths of parental anguish then, now and for the more than a decade in between.”

Meanwhile, Decider‘s Anna Menta called it “a pot stirrer on the feverish public fascination, with no tangible new information or insights to justify its existence.”

Madeleine went missing from their family’s holiday apartment at the seaside resort of Praia de Luz in Portugal on 3 May, 2007. After an initial investigation by Portuguese officials came to a standstill, Scotland Yard launched their own, which remains ongoing as another £150,000 was granted to the probe last November.

Chris Smith, who directed Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentary, as well as the Jim Carrey-starring Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, directed The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The UK-based Pulse Films have produced the series with Paramount television. The series was reportedly green-lit in 2017 following the success of other true crime documentaries.

More than 40 contributors were interviewed, with the filmmakers using 120 hours of interviews, archival footage and reenactments to make the eight-hour series. According to Netflix, we can also expect “never-before-heard testimonies from those at the heart of the story including friends of the McCann family, investigators working the case and from those who became the subject of media speculation and rumour”.

Before even reaching the streaming service, McCann’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, condemned the series, saying it could potentially “hinder” the ongoing police investigation into the disappearance of their daughter.

“We are aware that Netflix are planning to screen a documentary in March 2019 about Madeleine’s disappearance,” the family said in a statement.

“The production company told us that they were making the documentary and asked us to participate.”

“We did not see – and still do not see – how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and, particularly given there is an active police investigation, it could potentially hinder it.”

“Consequently, our views and preferences are not reflected in the programme. We will not be making any further statements or giving interviews regarding this programme.”