This week saw HBO Max debut the first three episodes of their original crime-drama, The Staircase, a limited series adaptation of the documentary of the same name that dramatizes both the events of the case and the creation of the famous documentary itself. The show, which features Academy Award nominee Toni Collette, Primetime Emmy nominee Michael Stuhlbarg, and Academy Award winner Colin Firth, is also being incredibly well received by critics and currently holds a 95% approval rating and a “Certified Fresh” distinction from the review aggregator. With 43 total reviews for the series on the site only two of them are negative.
In their review, Vulture says that the series “defies expectations, adding new perspective and dimension to a well-known story while creating an experience that differs from the docuseries,” while Vogue says the series “winds up being a meta-text more than a murder mystery –and it’s a riveting one. The critical consensus on the site reads as follows: “The Staircase doesn’t hold many surprises for those already intimate with the original documentary, but this dramatization brings a fresh perspective and texture to the mystery — along with a terrific performance by Colin Firth.”
For those unaware, The Staircase tells the real-life story of Michael Peterson (Firth), a man in North Carolina who calls the police after finding his wife, Kathleen Peterson (Collette), dead at the bottom of the stairs in their home. Suspicions quickly arise and the tangled web of details and reveals make it a continuously shocking and unbelievable event, one that continues for the better part of two decades. The Staircase documentary series first premiered back in 2004 when additional episodes being produced in 2013 and later 2018.
Running for eight episodes in total, HBO Max’s The Staircase has released the first three episodes on the platform for streaming right now. In addition to Firth, Collette, and Stuhlbarg, the series also stars Juliette Binoche (Godzilla), Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, Amazing Spider-Man 2), Olivia DeJonge (The Visit), Rosemarie DeWitt (Little Fires Everywhere), Tim Guinee (Iron Man), Patrick Schwarzenegger (Daniel Isn’t Real), Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones), Vincent Vermignon (Luther), Odessa Young (The Stand) and Parker Posey (Lost in Space).
The Staircase is co-produced by Annapurna Television. Written and executive produced by Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn, who also serve as showrunners. Campos directed six episodes and Leigh Janiak directed two episodes.