The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann”: A review of the new Netflix series

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Many may reflect on 2007 as being a simpler time before life began to feel governed by Instagram, the Kardashians and Donald Trump.


However, in May of the same year the world was rocked by arguably the most famous missing persons case in history - the disappearance of 3-year-old British girl, Madeleine McCann.


Madeleine’s disappearance still appears to be on the tip of many a tongue, both in the UK and across the globe.


So, when it was revealed that Netflix were doing a documentary on the McCann case, expectations were, without a doubt, high.


But, is Netflix’s newest true crime effort actually worth a watch?


Unlike “Making a Murderer”, the new Madeleine McCann documentary fails to introduce any new evidence, instead what is actually presented appears to just be a rehash of the facts.


So, without there seeming to be a real reason for the series to be aired, one could ask: did those who were involved in this documentary really care about finding Madeleine? Or was this just another shameless corporate cash in?


Having said this, most millennial viewers will likely have been too young to remember all the details surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance.


It can be argued that the documentary is worthy of praise as it ensures that younger viewers gain a clearer insight into the case, both in relation to Madeleine’s disappearance, as well as the events that unfolded afterwards.


The series itself spends time examining the area of ‘Praia da Luz’, a tourist hotspot located in the Algarve.


Presumably, this is done to make it easier for viewers to understand the bigger picture.


However, with this being said, some of the points mentioned feel more relevant than others.


A particularly relevant line of inquiry is when the documentary highlights that Madeleine is not the first child to have gone missing under suspicious circumstances in Portugal.


The series will then allude to how these unexplained disappearances may have something to do with the vast number of known paedophiles who were local to the area.


This feels much more relevant to the McCann case compared to the exploration of how the Algarve coastline has changed in the last century, the relevance of which seems unclear, at least initially.


According to social media this particular part of the series caught many a viewer off guard, which is hardly surprising as it feels like a segment that would be more at home in the Attenborough narrated wildlife series, ‘Planet Earth’.


Interestingly, Madeleine’s parents had no involvement in the documentary whatsoever, their reason being that it may hinder the ongoing investigation. Indeed, the documentary appeared to take an unbiased look at the McCann’s which went against what many viewers were expecting, however one must remember that this Netflix series is an elongated retelling of a story not a fictional crime thriller.


As the documentary shows, Kate and Gerry McCann have certainly received a barrage of hostility since their daughter disappeared. The series reminds viewers of how time appears to have diluted the amount of sympathy the general public felt towards the family.


This is not to say that the both parents cannot be subject to criticism though. And whilst the series appears to have produced a vast divide in opinion regarding whether the pair were involved in Madeleine’s disappearance or not, what should be agreed on is the following: both Kate and Gerry McCann were at a Tapas restaurant hobnobbing and drinking wine with their friends whilst their children were left alone in their apartment, an act of complete and utter negligence. Similarly, had the McCann’s been of a lower socio-economic class, their remaining two children would have been taken away from them faster than you can say “The Story of Tracy Beaker”.


On the whole “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann” is at times harrowing but is mostly hopeful, and whilst it’s not what many were expecting, it does in fact offer a fresh look at the case.


Many have already branded the documentary as a one-dimensional waste of time. However as the series progresses, viewers are shown that there is definitely more to this case than meets the eye, regardless of the fact that the series may not be as conclusive as its true crime counterparts.


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