True crime and conspiracy theory documentaries are very on trend right now, and luckily for me that's one of my favorite genres of TV! About a week ago I binge watched the entire 8-episode Manhunt: Unabomber series from the Discovery Channel on Netflix and I was absolutely blown away by not only the series' content, but also the overall quality of the series.
This series lacks nothing in drama and entertainment value as it had me on the edge of my seat from the first episode all the way to the finale. Manhunt: Unabomber follows a young FBI profiler, Jim Fitzgerald, who was brought onto the case and, in spite of butting heads with other investigators at the FBI, ultimately cracked the case of uncovering the identity of the Unabomber: Ted Kaczynski. The audience encounters Agent Fitzgerald throughout the Unabomber investigation as well as interacting with an incarcerated Kaczynski leading up to his trial as he attempts to convince Kaczynski to enter a guilty plea.
What makes this series so incredible, in my opinion, is how it is able to completely reframe how the Unabomber story is told. Because of the amount of media coverage that the case received, it's easy to think that we already know all of the details about what happened, but there is so much more to the story. What was going on behind the scenes at the FBI during the investigation was riveting, cutting-edge, and is absolutely maddening and gut-wrenching to watch. Agent Fitzgerald faces unimaginable conflicts over and over throughout the investigation as he questions the biases and practices of his superiors. In the end, his refusal to let go of his intuitions is what allowed the FBI to identify and arrest Ted Kaczynski as the Unabomber.
Unabomber: Manhunt is not only good television, but an important historical relic that memorializes a tumultuous era for law enforcement in the United States; throughout the series multiple references are made to the public spectacle of the OJ Simpson trial as well as the trial of the Menendez brothers. The series also does not attempt to leave the viewer with some broad moral takeaway, which is refreshing. They present Kaczynski as having a greater depth than you would imagine having only known him from his infamous police sketch.
I also found Unabomber: Manhunt to be personally fascinating due to my interest in the field of linguistics. The way that Agent Fitzgerald implemented linguistic analysis to build a profile of the Unabomber is nothing short of brilliant. I would have never known about the role that linguistics played in this case had I not watched this series.
All in all, Unabomber: Manhunt has great acting, writing, and leads the audience through a roller coaster of emotions as we follow Agent Fitzgerald through this incredible investigations and watch him attempt to pull a guilty plea out of Kaczynski. Even though the Unabomber investigation has had wide public coverage, this series puts it into a fresh new light making it a seat grippingly entertaining watch.