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'The Jinx' fan recap: The scariest villain exists in real life

True crime has become more fashionable than ever, thanks to the popularity of Serial. However, we true crime superfans would scoff at the idea of making true crime mainstream. Which is why I am utterly baffled that the HBO documentary miniseries, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, has not caught on more. The story is about a thousand times more insane than Serial’s.

To recap the insanity:

  • Robert Durst, the subject of the series, has admitted to dismembering his friend’s body, but been acquitted of said friend’s murder.

  • Twenty years prior, his wife went missing, and no one has found the body. Durst was the last to see her, but he was never charged with her murder or disappearance.

  • Susan Berman, a close friend of Durst’s, was said to have some new information about Durst’s wife’s disappearance. A few days later, she was found shot in the head in her home. Durst is not arrested.

  • After Susan Berman was murdered, Durst moved to Galveston and dressed like a woman to hide out from authorities. While in Galveston, his elderly neighbor was found dismembered and thrown into the bay.

  • After his neighbor’s murder, the only reason he was caught was because he was seen stealing a sandwich from a supermarket (remember, this man is a billionaire).

  • Again, Durst has fully confessed to dismembering the body, but at his trial, was acquitted of murder after claiming self-defense.

Here we have a man who may have committed murder three times and gotten away with it, even with the police involved. When I watch the show, I also keep thinking: This is a man who severed his friend’s head and drove around with it in his truck.

It seems too crazy to be true, as if it’s from a movie. That’s why Jinx director Andrew Jarecki wrote and directed a film in 2010 based on Durst’s life, called All Good Things. That version was fictionalized; Ryan Gosling played the Durst character. Though the movie was critically panned (probably rightfully so), Jarecki has been fascinated with the case ever since. True crime is his forte; you may know him from his previous documentary, Capturing the Friedmans.

The conclusion of the series airs this Sunday, and I can barely contain my anticipation. At last week’s conclusion, a piece of evidence was found that could potentially prove Durst’s involvement in the murder of the two women. That piece of evidence would not have been found if it weren’t for this documentary. This is similar to other essential true-crime documentaries—the Paradise Lost trilogy and the Sundance series The Staircase. (If you like true crime and haven’t seen these, what are you doing?) I usually don’t care about spoilers, but this one is too good to ruin for you, since you have time to catch up on the first five parts on HBO Go.

The Jinx

Robert Durst himself is a fascinating man. He’s also a scary, disturbing and bizarre man. His life reminds me of that of John DuPont, as portrayed by Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher; he was born to a rich family where everything was handed to him but he developed no sense of self. Not only that, but he witnessed his mother killing herself by jumping off the roof of their palatial family estate. His father and the rest of his family never talked to him about the reasons, just calling it an “accident.” This left a seven-year-old boy to deal with his feelings by himself. Add to that some other difficulty with social relationships, and you’ve got a recipe for a true villain. If, in fact, Durst did commit the murders, he has a drive for self-preservation that is unprecedented, This coming from a man who claims to be a loner with no real connections to people, and no excitement for the life he leads.

Durst is often uncomfortable to watch, given his flat affect when talking about the death and disappearance of his loved ones, a pronounced facial tic, and dark pupils that seem to take up most of his eyes. This is in contrast to the charismatic, personable Adnan Syed of Serial, whom listeners don’t want to believe can be a murderer. Unfortunately for Durst, his persona isn’t charming anyone.

Jarecki clearly loves this case and probably has some love for Durst himself, despite his feelings about whether he is innocent or not. The series is beautifully filmed; Jarecki does many in-depth interviews with not only Durst himself, but everyone involved: friends, acquaintances, law enforcement, the District Attorney, and Kathie Durst’s and Susan Berman’s families. Very few of them, even if any, seem to be fighting for Durst’s innocence. The series also has beautifully filmed, dreamlike cinematic reenactments that enhance the story and make it more cinematic than just a series of interviews.

Sure, no court of law has found Robert Durst guilty. But watching this makes me believe there is a murderer, possibly a serial one, walking free. The most appealing part of true crime, for me, is trying to get inside the mind of someone, and understand what or how they did what they did. Durst’s alleged crimes are so against any logical, empathetic, or rational behavior that the only way to accept it is to understand it. The Jinx brings us as close as we can get—which, unfortunately, is not very close. But that really doesn’t stop us from trying.

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on HBO.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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