A bodybuilding couple’s intense and toxic relationship ends in a brutal death, and this documentary is an honest take on how and why that happened—an interesting and emotive watch.
Netflix brings the true crime documentary series Killer Sally – this is our official review that does not spoil the ending.
On Valentine’s Day, over 25 years ago in 1995, Sally McNeil shot her national bodybuilding champion husband Ray McNeil. They both met in the marines and bonded over their love for bodybuilding, and the two quickly married after only two months of dating. This is the most dramatic event to happen in bodybuilding history, and in this powerful three-episode Netflix docuseries, we dig into whether Sally’s shooting of her allegedly abusive husband Ray was premeditated or self-defense.
At the opening of the first episode, we’re introduced to Sally, who has a tremendous physique, and is dressed in army gear, draped in bullets, now saying she’s a civilian. Followed by interviews with Sally now, who introduces herself as flawed and human, and goes deep and personal into her relationship with Ray, how both of them got into bodybuilding, her wrestling career, and how their relationship went from bad to worse. The whole series is learning a lot about Sally and Ray and their relationship and their careers.
Netflix’s Killer Sally is filled with home videos between the two, as well as interviews with friends and family, including Sally and Ray’s son, who also says he was abused by his steroid-abusing father. His friends describe him as a gentle giant but someone who had a short fuse, so you had to be careful about how to approach him. All interviews seem to portray someone who has issues and demons to deal with. We also get accounts from the attorneys and their defense strategies and opinions. The interviews are in home settings, which are comforting and clean. No purpose-built stages or areas for them to sit; they look very comfortable talking and honest, not scripted.
You learn a lot about bodybuilding and the politics behind it. Is it a sport, an art, or even a pageant? Well, to me, it’s all three, and their bodies are an impressive art form of what the body can actually do. It’s interesting to learn how the fitness revolution spurred women to get involved and get their own events and how women can use this platform to be and feel strong and break down stereotypes of what women should look like. This is a really interesting side of the documentary as it really shows how bodybuilding meant too much in their lives and their relationship. The pressures of any sport can take a toll on people and cause them to use performance-enhancing drugs, and this will affect your mental and physical well-being.
At the time of the shooting, Sally alleged that she was being choked by Ray at the time and it was self-defense; that she was a victim of his abuse for many years. As they discuss both of them using steroids and how Sally would buy the steroids for Ray, was the steroid abuse one of the triggers causing Ray to have violent outbursts? It’s not as black and white as it seems — we also learn about Sally’s fierce, argumentative and violent side, which even got her suspended from bodybuilding for over a year.
We get to see footage from the police cameras where they were holding Sally after the shooting, and that section is incredibly sad to see, but it’s also intriguing as Sally’s actions aren’t what I expected. Sally ultimately faced second-degree murder charges for Ray’s death (I won’t spoil the outcome of the trial but definitely watch to see what happens), and you can decide whether you agree with this outcome or not. If Ray was a man with huge insecurities, threatened by his wife’s looks and successes, pumped with steroids, who took his anger and rage out on Sally, does this mean he deserved to die? Was it self-defense, as Sally was fighting for her life, or was Sally sick of his abuse and only saw one way out and premeditated this shooting? There is no doubt this relationship was toxic, and it’s a shame it ended in someone dying. This series will make you think and question your morals and is definitely a talking piece.
What did you think of the Netflix true crime documentary series Killer Sally? Comment below.