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20th Sep 2019

HBO’s new true crime documentary hailed as “jaw dropping” and “compellingly twisted”

Paul Moore

It has some of the year’s best reviews already.

It’s the time of year when TV stations usually show off their upcoming slate and HBO have stolen a march on their rivals when it comes to the documentary genre.

The broadcaster has three big projects set to be released in the next few weeks and it appears that they’ve kicked off with an absolute gem with I Love You, Now Die.

The two-part documentary revolves around Michelle Carter and her boyfriend Conrad Roy, a teenager that died by suicide at the age of 18.

After experiencing various battles with mental illness, Conrad Roy wanted to die. However, he received encouragement to end his life from his long-distance girlfriend, 17-year-old Michelle Carter, via text messages.

The case was the subject of a highly-publicised investigation and involuntary manslaughter trial in Massachusetts, popularly known as the “texting suicide case”.

Prior to his death, Roy had seen numerous mental health professionals and insisted that he wanted to die.

Carter was convicted by a judge of involuntary manslaughter, who stated this was due specifically to a final phone call in which Carter told Roy to get back in his truck, which was filling with carbon monoxide, when he became scared.

In terms of its impact and legacy, the case raised complex questions about criminal responsibility in the era of social media.

Acclaimed director Erin Lee Carr is at the helm of this series – she previously made Mommy Dead and Dearest, a documentary which dealt with the now-infamous Blanchard family case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a case that was popularised in The Act.

The documentary aims to answer one question, were Carter’s actions criminal?

Earlier this week, Carter’s lawyers urged the U.S. Supreme Court to have her involuntary manslaughter conviction thrown out because it violated her right to free speech. The lawyers argued that Conrad Roy’s death was “unprecedented” and said that her case raised crucial questions about whether “words alone” are enough to hold someone responsible for another person’s suicide.

The first part of the documentary deals with the prosecution’s case; the second half focuses on Carter and portrays her as a troubled woman who truly believed she could help Roy.

The documentary has already impressed the critics, with Decider calling it “jaw-dropping” before adding that it’s “a rarity during a time defined by overinflated true crime docuseries”.

Elsewhere, Variety said that it’s “an unusually credible and careful entry in its genre, and one devotees and novices alike should check out”.

TV Insider, meanwhile, hailed it as “compellingly twisted”.

Part One of I Love You, Now Die will air on Sky Crime at 9pm on 4 October. It will also be available to watch on NOW TV.

Clip via HBO