Depp v Heard Season 1 Review – A polarizing experience on almost every level

By Marc Miller
Published: August 14, 2023 (Last updated: February 8, 2024)
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Depp v. Heard Season 1 Review - A polarizing experience on almost every level


Depp v. Heard is a polarizing experience because the series is not an indictment of either party but instead of ourselves and the way we consume information.

The Netflix reality series Depp v Heard follows the case side by side as the Pirates of the Caribbean star sued the Zombieland actress for defamation, specifically disputing his ex-wife’s claims of “sexual violence” and “domestic abuse.” Ultimately, the jury found Amber Heard’s op-ed was a deliberate attempt to harm Johnny Depp’s reputation.

The verdict was a ten-million-dollar reward in compensatory damages (to help the “injured victim”) and five million in punitive damages (to penalize the “person at fault”) for Depp. This is surprising since, according to the Torts and Insurance Law Book, the latter is rarely rewarded in the United States and occurs only in “extreme” cases.

The amount was capped at $350,000, per Virginia state law. Further, a settlement was reached with Heard paying one million dollars, and both appeals were dropped. There’s an additional reward for Heard accusing Depp’s former lawyers of defamation, resulting in a two-million verdict. (That point wasn’t made entirely clear in the series).

Viewers watch this streaming series through the lens of public opinion and consuming news with social media. At first, this is so over the top that it feels like a gimmick. However, as the series continues, it’s an indictment on ourselves, not the injured parties.

Depp v Heard Season 1 review and plot summary

The first episode, “Truth on Trial,” addresses the spread of misinformation. Nearly 200 hours of live-streaming coverage were dedicated to the trial, possibly reflecting how young people consume news. According to the Pew Research Center, 16% of individuals gather information through these platforms, contributing to disseminating unverified claims.

The episode is intriguing as it examines assertions from both sides: public opinion versus public record. Heard possesses a shocking video of Depp displaying anger and drinking. On the other hand, the actress authored an op-ed detailing her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. Yet, Depp can provide an audio recording in which Heard admits to physically abusing him.

The second episode, “Breaking the Internet,” delves into Heard’s allegation that Depp sexually assaulted her. The series asserts that this marks the first instance of an “alleged sexual assault in full view” in the U.S. While numerous scholarly articles emphasize the significance of believing victims, social media largely disregarded Heard’s claims.

It may surprise you that many women sided with Depp during the #MeToo movement. Is this indicative of the influence of fame and the idealized halo effect of celebrity? Social media reporting increased, and although many rallied to support victims, they labeled Heard dishonest. Even TMZ makes a revealing cameo appearance.

The final episode, titled “The Viral Verdict,” brings together various elements and delves into the viral perception of Heard’s reputation. The scene with Heard opening the door to Depp’s character resembles something straight out of a Law & Order episode. As the series revisits the incident where Heard allegedly punched Depp, it aligns with her claim of defending her sister.

However, as the series highlights, social media opinion has taken a back seat to this particular incident, especially about Heard’s statements about donating her divorce settlement. Following the verdict, there’s a sense of hubris in the social media celebration, with both social media and the podcast experiencing their Louis Bloom moments in the sun.

Is Depp v Heard Season 1 good or bad?

Depp v. Heard is a polarizing experience, which is rather the point because of the sheer amount of public opinion and public perception. The reporting and fact-checking in the series are admirable because of the balance the filmmakers provide.

Is Depp v Heard Season 1 worth watching?

Depp v. Heard is worth watching because it isn’t an indictment of either party. Rather, a reflection of our own distrust of both government and news in general.

What did you think of Depp v Heard Season 1? Comment below.

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