‘What Jennifer Did’ Exposes the Dark Reality Behind Jennifer Pan’s Failed Family Plot

By Daniel Hart
Published: April 10, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
What Jennifer Did Netflix
'What Jennifer Did' Documentary Promotional Image (Credit - Netflix)


What Jennifer Did details Jennifer Pan’s infamous murder plot superbly with expert insights and insightful police interrogation footage, but it falls apart slightly with the single-angle approach.

What Jennifer Did is more about what Jennifer Pan did not do. She wanted her ex-boyfriend back, she wanted to lead a different life, she wanted both her parents, Bich Ha Pan and Huei Hann Pan, dead, and she wanted her problems to go away. She achieved none of this. The true crime documentary answers one truth: Jennifer believed evil was justified for her selfish beliefs. I was amazed by the “me, me, me” mentality at play. It stunk.

Jennifer Pan Lied and Planned Murder

Jennifer Pan did not tell the truth and was shoddy at lying. It was satisfying that the documentary did not take any shortcuts to provide a complete picture of the conspirator. The interrogation interview footage is provided, putting Jennifer in the spotlight for being a flagrant liar. I was dumbfounded that she felt like she could get away with this.

And it’s all a performance by the culprit, too, and a terrible one at that. What Jennifer Did is a shambolic, murderous soap opera slowly playing out and becoming cringe-inducing by the minute. The ordeal is cold and calculated, but the documentary proves the execution was flawed and shaky.

The angle of the documentary is that the story is pure evil, but I was not convinced. The outcome was evil, but the consequences were ironic. Bich Ha Pan and Huei Hann Pan were both meant to die, and there were meant to be no witnesses. The father surviving a gunshot wound to the head and becoming a primary witness was not meant to happen. Jennifer’s murder plot was rightly usurped by clumsy hitman skills. She believed her feelings for her situation were just; her privilege provided her the mindset that it was okay to pay for cheap assassins to kill her traditional parents.

young Jennifer Pan

A young Jennifer Pan winning awards for her piano skills (Credit – Netflix)

The Single Angle Approach Is The Documentary’s Downfall

However, the documentary lacks a critical aspect that many true crime stories suffer. What Jennifer Did outlines how she lied incessantly about attending university and forged a fake science degree certificate because her parents wanted her to become a pharmacist. Jennifer was deeply resentful that her parents disapproved of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Wong.

Okay, so there’s a motive. The scenario is not that Jennifer conspired to murder her parents from demonic thoughts. She did not suddenly wake up one day and decide that she wanted her parents killed. The documentary admittedly made me feel quite sad. What madness must it take for a young person to plot and plan the destruction of their family for over a year? To pre-meditate to that level and not change their mind is a whole world of hell not explained in the story.

What Jennifer did was wrong, but I wanted to know more about the family and her situation. What was her upbringing like? Was her freedom restricted to other aspects of her life? Did she have any history of mental health issues? The documentary established the evilness of the act, but depth is important to understanding the human psyche, which this documentary lacks.

This documentary lacks depth because a single-angle approach is always the wrong way to tackle this subject matter. If Jennifer Pan has been granted a new trial after appeal and maintains her innocence, why is that story not pulled apart? The team behind the documentary clearly states that this woman is evil and guilty, so why not show me her pleas for innocence? Disprove it. Put the nail in the coffin.

‘What Jennifer Did’ Scores Well For Being Expert Driven

What Jennifer Did is well-jigsawed and curated. It did not present armchair experts but interviewed the key players on the case. Detective Bill Courtice and Victims Liaison Officer Deborah Gladding help build the scenario and explain how this case played out to their viewers. From an expert perspective, this true crime documentary plays its cards right. However, it does lack the lawyers in the room; the story would have benefited from opinions from the prosecutor and defense.

Detective Bill Courtice interviewed in What Jennifer Did

Detective Bill Courtice interviewed in ‘What Jennifer Did’ (Credit – Netflix)

Either way, I did chuckle a little as the documentary progressed, and not in a disrespectful way. I was shocked that Jennifer felt this would end on good terms for her. Seeing her lie and weasel through police interviews makes for decent entertainment.

As much as we hate to admit it, we are easily swayed by sensational subjects. What Jennifer Did undoubtedly hits the right notes to spread excitement in the true crime community. With great editing, good commentary, insightful interviews, and plenty of police footage, Netflix has another documentary hit.

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