Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies, is a three-episode docuseries produced by Abby Hoyt (This is Paris) among others, that for the first time, gives Casey Anthony the opportunity to speak directly to viewers. In 2011, Anthony stood trial for the 2008 murder of her 3-year-old daughter Caylee and was later found not guilty by a jury. There have been lots of other shows and movies documenting the case and Anthony, including 2017’s Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery but this time, it is Anthony who has control of the narrative and her story. Content warning for mentions of abuse and rape.
CASEY ANTHONY: WHERE THE TRUTH LIES: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Fade in on palm fronds in south Florida as binaural music plays in the background and the sounds of nature can be heard.
The Gist: The first episode begins with Casey Anthony entering the home that the crew has rented in South Florida for the interviews to take place in. Anthony shows off the last few items she has left of Caylee, which include various photographs and some drawings. Then, lots of archival news footage clips from 2008 and 2011 are shown, juxtaposing Anthony as an individual to the media scrutiny and publicity she received 14 years ago. The phrase “she has not done a single on-camera interview since she was acquitted in her murder trial” particularly stands out as it attempts to add significance to why this docuseries matters. Anthony herself also explains that she’s done a lot of work over the last 10 years “making sure I knew who I was,” which makes her capable and able to speak up now, finally. We also get to see Casey in motion, taking a hike and working as a research assistant for Patrick McKenna, the lead investigator for her 2011 case, before she then briefly talks about how Caylee was born and what it meant for her to be a mom.
This then cuts to “the Case Against Casey” in which detective John Allen, who supervised the Anthony investigation, speaks about the case. On July 15, 2008, Cindy Anthony, Caylee’s grandmother, called 911 to report that 3-year-old Caylee had been missing for a month and Casey had not reported it. Another detective, Eric Edwards, shows the Anthony home while explaining how Anthony’s explanation that a nanny had taken Caylee was proven to be quite null, as when the detectives attempted to locate her, they found the apartment she was supposed to be living in completely abandoned. During this initial investigation, the detectives point out other lies Anthony told, including one where she said she worked at Universal Studios but did not and bring up her lack of emotional response to her daughter missing.
Another aspect of the case that is examined is the media’s portrayal. Local investigative reporter Tony Pipitone explains the portrait that was painted about Caylee and how Anthony’s parents, Cindy and George, also set a narrative, as footage of them doing interviews, handing out t-shirts with Caylee, and even leading a vigil plays, all adding more to the desire to find Caylee. Local reporter Jacqueline Hampton also explains how social media played a big role in this case, even altering how we look at true crime cases today. When Anthony is eventually released from jail on bond, her lack of emotional response continues to be examined, as she is going out and partying and even getting a tattoo. Friends of Anthony’s former boyfriend Tony Lazzaro also speak about how Anthony acted before her daughter went missing and after, with zero indication anything was wrong.
Finally, we get to “Casey’s story,” where Anthony explains what was going on in her own words. She admits she did lie to law enforcement but maintains that Caylee did matter to her. Former best friend Annie Goderwis also defends her, saying that “[Anthony] didn’t kill her child” and that so many of the photos of her partying were taken out of context and time period. The producers attempt to find out why Anthony was lying and she explains that it was her “whole life up to that point” and that she suppressed a lot of memories. She then goes into detail about her childhood and explains how her father was a liar, stealing money from her mother and having affairs. Anthony also details the abuse she received at the hands of her father, starting from when she was 8 years old and stopping when she was 12, before her brother began abusing her until she was 15; she never told anyone about what happened, afraid if she told her mom that she would get in trouble. She also reveals that Kaylee was conceived via rape when she was 18 and that she told her boyfriend at the time it was his because she hadn’t told anyone what actually happened. Part of the reason she lied was because she didn’t want Caylee knowing how terrible her conception actually was and she wanted to protect her. She again defends her lies, arguing that no one asked why she lied. Goderwis chimes in again to say that Anthony often said that she was lying and doing what “they” (law enforcement perhaps, lawyers) were telling her to do. Casey finally explains who “they” were: her father.
Our Take: While Anthony attempts to tell us the truth, the narrative and the structure of the show feel confusing and the pacing for certain parts feels really fast. When a news reporter or friend will give their take on the case, it feels rushed and without clear reason. The producers seem to be trying to justify why this docuseries is necessary with different professionals but as soon as they have share their two cents, the show rushes off. The editing feels rushed and as a result, the viewer may have trouble finding a way to latch on to what is being said.
The first episode keeps asking for the truth but spends more time separating Casey and the detectives’ truths then trying to show them as within the same vein. And instead of giving us more of an idea of who Caylee is and why she mattered, it only gives us a few details. So while the case surrounds Caylee and Anthony as her mother, it doesn’t allow us to see them as interlocked and related and that defeats some of the heart and purpose of the show’s significance.
Sex and Skin: None
Parting Shot: Casey tells the camera that she was doing what she was told by her father and the camera cuts to black.
Sleeper Star: Anthony’s former best friend Annie Goderwis adds much needed nuance and depth to the show, critical of Anthony but also bringing in the empathy the show desperately tries to show.
Most Pilot-y Line: Throughout the episode the question “why did you lie?” and “why” to Anthony is threateningly thrown in and out of the episode in very dramatic ways. While it does keep the viewer invested, it can feel too broad at times for the information people want to know.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Though it attempts to shine a light on someone whose narrative was taken away from them, Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies doesn’t add much to the case nor does it keep you wanting to learn more. In a world of true crime docuseries and drama series, it feels hard to listen to Anthony with the mounds of evidence against her that make it difficult to believe her even now.