When Serial, Sarah Koenig’s NPR podcast about the murder of Hae Min Lee, reached an insurmountable level of popularity and subsequently ended after 12 episodes, fan were left craving more. Koenig’s investigation had reached its conclusion, but fans were demanding a second season and a new mystery.
Luckily, that’s where HBO’s new docu-series, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, premieres at the right time. (The first of six episodes premiered on Sunday night opposite of the GRAMMY Awards.) Telling the story of Robert Durst, the famed real estate heir and suspected murderer, the documentary explores two unexplained murders and one unsolved disappearance of his wife Kathleen Durst that may leave some Serial addicts with more than what they bargained for.
Directed by Andrew Jarecki — the filmmaker behind All the Good Things, the fictionalized big screen version of Kathleen’s 1982 disappearance starring Kirsten Dunst and Ryan Gosling — visualizes the crimes and ultimately turns the camera on Durst himself, who speaks out for the first time in a media interview.
While the first episode opens with the gruesome depiction of the 2001 murder of Morris Black, an elderly Texas neighbor of Durst’s, it’s immediately addicting, serving as the real-life version of HBO’s other hit series, True Detective. The visual cues are slick, like a David Fincher film — the most notable reference is Zodiac, which detailed the real-life unsolved serial murders of San Francisco — and, at times, it’s hard to remember this is all very real.
The second episode, which features Durst’s on camera interview with Jarecki, outlines a character study that feels strangely similar to Ben Affleck’s onscreen portrayal of Nick Dunne in Gone Girl. Durst, whose wife has been reported missing, tells lies about the last night she was seen alive and even says he was “complicit in Kathie not being here.” The many people who are convinced of his guilt in Kathleen’s disappearance and featured in cuts during Durst’s interview compound these tiny admissions.
The stark difference between Serial and The Jinx, is that the HBO documentary comes from a perspective of guilt while Koenig seemed interested in truth and innocence. The main reason behind that may be due to the fact that Durst’s story has made headlines for nearly three decades when Durst was standing trial for murder. (He was twice acquitted for the murder of Black.)
Even the director admits it’s hard to know if he’s innocent. “He's a very complex person," Jarecki tells People, a publication that long covered the ongoing investigations. "But he is very honest and candid in his interviews. The audience may not like him after hearing what he has to say, but they will feel like they finally know the truth."
Whatever the truth is, The Jinx will have fans riveted by the seriously twisted nature of Durst himself and turn many into mini detectives who will no doubt begin investigating each crime on their own.
The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on HBO. Watch the first episode for free on YouTube now.