Monique Olivier: Accessory To Evil is a five-part docuseries that details how law enforcement in France managed to link the country’s most notorious serial killer and sexual predator, Michel Fourniret, to a number of unsolved cases that ranged in timeframe from the 1980s to the early 2000s. The link was his wife, Monique Olivier, but as we find out during the series, her participation in his horrific crimes was more than just that of a submissive woman in fear of her domineering husband.
MONIQUE OLIVIER: ACCESSORY TO EVIL: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: A pair of headlights come up over a small hill. As reports of the 1987 disappearance of Isabelle Laville comes over the radio, we see a reenactment of a man driving with an unconscious girl in the back seat of his car.
The Gist: Through interviews with law enforcement and victims’ families, along with archival news footage and reenactments, directors Christophe Astruc, Michelle Fines discuss how the disappearance of young women in France’s Ardennes region in 2000 and 2001 led authorities to an unassuming forest ranger, Michel Fourniret, who was accused of assault when one of his potential victims escaped and identified him.
Because the two teenage girls — 18-year old Céline Saison and 13-year-old Mananya Thumpong — were found in the same wooded region in Belgium, not far from where Fourniret lived, he came under suspicion for both. But even after many hours of interrogation, he didn’t give law enforcement any info that would link him to those deaths.
So the authorities turned their attention to Olivier, Fourniret’s wife since 1989. She seemed like an old-fashioned, very submissive woman who seemed to have knowledge of her husband’s sexual assaults and murders. When she gave enough information to have Fourniret arrested, the killer tried to distance his wife from the assaults and killings, saying she was a frightened wife forced to participate under his overwhelming control. But some investigators had a feeling she had more to say, notions that were confirmed when Olivier admitted that she was an active participant in the abduction of Isabelle Laville.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? While Monique Olivier: Accessory To Evil is a pretty straightforward docuseries along the lines of Making A Murderer, though there aren’t many docuseries that talk about the wife of a serial killer.
Our Take: Most of the first episode of Monique Olivier: Accessory To Evil goes over the Laville, Saison and Thumpong cases, and discusses just how tough it was to get Fourniret to admit to anything that he was suspected of doing. Astruc and FInes do a good job of giving viewers a bit of misdirection in the first episode, painting Olivier as this submissive wife who didn’t marry Fourniret for love or romance. The detectives even describe her as “a woman without any notable physical features.”
But the history of the case tells us otherwise; she was a prison pen-pal for Fourniret when he was in prison for sexual assault in 1966, and she voluntarily participated in his crimes once he got out of prison in 1987 — shortly before the disappearance of Laville. The other four parts are going to peel back the layers of the onion of just how complicit Olivier was in her husbands’ heinous crimes, and just how unfeeling she was towards the families of the victims, despite having a son herself.
The final part will also have her participating in a cold case in more recent times, which should be interesting. But the middle three parts of this docuseries will really reveal just how evil Olivier was, even in light of what her husband did.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: 2022. A phone rings, and someone answers it. We hear the voice of Olivier on the other side.
Sleeper Star: No one particularly stands out, but that just means that everyone interviewed gives good information.
Most Pilot-y Line: We wonder if the picture of Olivier being a submissive wife terrorized by Fourniret was something that was a conclusion made more by a patriarchal law enforcement system than anything else. We noticed that all of the detectives interviewed were men. While there seemed to be a few detectives who suspected Olivier was more than just a terrorized wife, there is no digging into the factors that led to that initial assessment.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Monique Olivier: Accessory To Evil paints a horrific picture of a woman who willingly assisted her serial killer husband, making her a fascinating topic in her own right.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.
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