It’s difficult to listen to the women describe in detail the brutal attacks they survived, but Garbus felt it was crucial to include. “I think they trusted that we would be doing a thorough and thoughtful take on their story,” she says, adding she did not want to reduce their interviews to “a horrible sound bite of trauma. “Michelle made it her priority to foreground the stories of survivors,” Garbus says. “How can you really understand what happened without hearing from them?
That’s why perhaps the most upsetting part of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the law enforcement reaction—or rather, lack of reaction—to the rape and trauma these women experienced in the 1970s and ’80s when the attacks occurred. “Rape in the ’70s was not treated as the violent felony that it’s treated as today,” Garbus explains. “There were definitely a lot of detectives who were daunted about it, but you can also just see from the police reports that the attitudes toward rape were backwards.
According to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’s director and executive producer, Liz Garbus, HBO sent her the manuscript before it was published. “I didn’t know about Michelle or even the case prior to that,” she tells Glamour. “And I was inspired to try to help tell the story, tell the story of the survivors, and tell the story of the obsession.
But his crimes might never have garnered national attention if it wasn’t for the late Michelle McNamara, who started a blog, True Crime Diary, that turned into the book the docuseries is based on: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer.
The docuseries focuses on McNamara’s increasingly fervent desire to find the Golden State Killer and bring him to justice as it weaves together original recordings and excerpts from her book along with interviews with survivors, detectives, and McNamara’s husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, who recounts intimate details about her fascination with the case.
That’s an important part of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: Unlike many other true-crime tales, the series doesn’t focus on the Golden State Killer—this is about the survivors and their stories.