“A woman’s body has been found in a remote area in County Cork.” So begins the trailer for a newly released Netflix limited series, the true-crime production Sophie: A Murder in West Cork about a “brutal crime that’s shocked the public.” It happened back in the 1990s, and it was the first murder in living memory for this particular region in Ireland — indeed, people there, according to one woman in the show’s trailer, had no experience whatsoever with serious crime. All of which is to say, if true-crime documentaries are your thing, this is definitely one of the new shows on Netflix to put on your radar.
This three-episode limited series was directed by John Dower. And it joins a growing stable of increasingly buzzworthy true-crime shows on Netflix, including everything from Making a Murderer to the docu-series Heist coming later this month.
New shows on Netflix — Sophie limited series
Critical reaction to Sophie thus far has been pretty solid. And Twitter users are likewise raving about the project, including one who praised the “Great story, wonderful portrait of a place and fantastic storytelling.” A Guardian reviewer awarded it three out of five stars.
Here’s what we know. French producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder happened in the town of Schull, West Cork, in 1996. Per Netflix: “The brutal murder, which shocked the country, triggered one of the biggest murder investigations Ireland had ever seen.” Indeed, it became something of a national obsession. And the documentary charts “the circumstances of her death, unraveling the extraordinary story from its beginning … to the present day.”
The series got exclusive access to Sophie’s family. And it brought together, for the first time, “the views of her family with (journalist) Ian Bailey.” He’s the man at the center of the investigation, quickly fingered as the suspect.
One of the hallmarks of the best true-crime Netflix shows and docu-series is a new revelation about a suspect. Or facts newly uncovered that exonerate someone long-suspected of the crime. A big surprise or reveal, in other words.
Sophie tries hard to get there. Bailey is presented as — if not the villain in this Netflix show — the figure viewers are meant to have doubts about. According to Newsweek, a woman made an anonymous call to police after Sophie’s murder. She gave a description of someone who matched Bailey. Years later, she retracted her statements.
Bailey avoided trial, for a lack of sufficient evidence. He still maintains his innocence and remains free today.
He’s also threatened to sue Netflix over his portrayal in the new series.