“Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” is back. Three new episodes of the Netflix docuseries dropped on Wednesday, providing a closer look at the days leading up to the 2021 murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, and what happened between those deaths and Alex Murdaugh’s conviction in March 2023.
While the first season, which premiered on Feb. 22, led up to the trial, Michael Gasparro and Julia Willoughby Nason, the docuseries’ director/executive producers, knew there was more story to tell.
“We kind of had a lot in the wings ready to go, and a lot of unfinished business essentially that we were really excited to dive back into,” Willoughby Nason says. “When I saw the witnesses on the stand during that six-week trial, I wanted to interview them. I wanted to see what they really wanted to say. So we won’t run a rehash anything, but we wanted to go more intimate and deeper into the actual people that lived it.”
One of the big challenges of putting out a second batch of episodes was the timeline. The team wanted to make sure that the turnaround was fast enough to ensure the audience still cared about the case. Murdaugh was found guilty of the murders on March 2, one week after Season 1 of the docuseries dropped. The following day, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. The team knew there was more to tell, and when Netflix got on board, they quickly got to work, filming the new episodes over the summer. They locked in three key interviews: the family’s former housekeeper Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson, Alex’s mother’s caregiver Mushelle “Shelly” Smith, Curtis Edward “Cousin Eddie” Smith and juror Gwen Generette.
“It was important for us to make sure that we were not just retelling, or just telling some trial story that millions of people have already watched,” says Gasparro.
While highlighting new subjects helped that, not everyone they hoped to secure would agree to be interviewed — some because of their emotional states, and others out of fear. Willoughby Nason says, “The Murdaughs held so much power for so long that I’m sure there is intimidation that lingers, even if he was convicted of double homicide.”
The team also tried to speak to someone from SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) and were close to locking in the first police officers on the scene of the crime in Walterboro, South Carolina. “We felt really close — and we felt it was important to hear from them, but things happen,” says Gasparro. “There’s red tape.”
Of course, there are also two family members missing from the interview segments: Alex Murdaugh and his son, Buster, neither of whom would participate — something that may come as a surprise since Season 1 ended with audio of a prison phone call in which they discussed whether a Netflix documentary would be made about them.
“They could have participated in a different circumstance that I don’t think, journalistically, we were comfortable with,” Willoughby Nason says. Gasparro adds, “I think that they’re protected by lawyers. At the end of the day, they are the ones that will inform his decision and the family’s. They have a ton of protection and they decided they wanted to go in a different direction for certain reasons.”
Now, the trial is over and the family’s life has changed — but that doesn’t mean that the story is over.
“This story is just going to continue to fold over the next decade — all these financial crimes, where’s all the money? There’s so many things that haven’t been told yet that are going to come out over the next 10 years,” Gasparro says. “There are other things that have happened — either there’s people that are still quiet or eventually the state is going to discover new information. I would say there’s always a possibility for Season 3.”
Seasons 1 and 2 of “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” is now streaming on Netflix.
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