The sheer outlandisness of this story is enough to sustain it across seven parts, meaning another true-crime hit for Netflix.
Don’t judge me for this, but if you’re the host of a TV show famous for arriving first at murder scenes, ordering those murders yourself isn’t a terrible idea. It’s amoral, obviously, and against the law, and all of that, but you know… ratings. It gives me no pride to admit that at one point while watching Killer Ratings, the new seven-part Netflix series detailing the real-life case of Brazilian TV host-turned-politician Wallace Souza, I wondered if the same strategy could be applied here; bump off one or two staff members in various film and TV-themed circumstances, and the numbers would soar. Think of the traffic!
Of course, I’m not being entirely serious. But that’s the appeal of Killer Ratings; it’s such a weird and compelling tale that the very notion that it might be true makes it watchable. Souza was the host of Canal Livre, a TV show broadcast in Manaus, in the lawless heart of Brazil’s Amazon, and his show was famed for its timeliness. Souza was later elected as State Representative and then accused of facilitating the very same murders his show was reporting. The case was further complicated by collaborating witnesses turning up dead, which in my limited legal experience is a bit of a giveaway.
Killer Ratings is the work of British factual producers Caravan and Quicksilver Media and combines exclusive interviews with previously unseen footage to help tell the full story. It’s not a new or radical documentary style — it’ll fit right in on Netflix alongside stuff like Crime Diaries: The Candidate — but it’s effective in the way decent true-crime always is; the truth is strange enough on its own.
In a weekend already flush with potential binge material, it’ll be interesting to gauge the appeal of Killer Ratings. But since the series has all the hallmarks of an enticing true-crime show, the betting folk among us would be wise to stake on its relative success. In the meantime, I’ll be planning a couple of my own hits.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.