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Series / Defending Jacob

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Defending Jacob is a 2020 AppleTv+ miniseries based on the book of the same name by William Landay.

It stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell, and it centers on Andy Barber (Evans) a small-town prosecutor whose world is upended when his 14-year-old son Jacob (Martell) comes under heavy suspicion for the brutal murder of his classmate.

He and his wife Laurie (Dockery) try to hold down and support their child, but have different reactions to what happens: Andy is about defending his son no matter what, while Laurie will stop at nothing to uncover the truth.

The series contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation: The show never reveals who killed Ben Rifkin. Subverted slightly in the book, where it's implied that Jacob did do it.
  • Amoral Attorney: Neal LoGiudice is shown as more interested in some misplaced revenge on Andy and publicity than truth as he is mounting a case against Jacob.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After Hope mysteriously vanishes and Andy reveals to her that the confession that exonerated Jacob was fake, Laurie believes Jacob to be Ben's murderer, and despite Hope having actually been found alive, attempts to kill him and herself in a car crash. Neither does, as Jacob enters a coma and Laurie survives albeit with major injuries and without remembering her motivations. It is then revealed that Andy was being interrogated at Laurie's trial and the show ends with Andy's family in shambles. This was changed from the outright Downer Ending of the book where Hope was actually found dead and Laurie believed that Jacob had killed her from a drop of blood on his bathing suit, and Jacob actually died in the crash.
  • Driven to Suicide: Laurie when Andy reveals to her that the confession was fake, which is to her a sign of Jacob's guilt. A few days later she actually attempts the deed, attempting to kill both her son and herself. In the show neither dies, in the book Jacob dies.
  • Enfant Terrible: Throughout the series Jacob's past is revealed and he is revealed as a very troubled kid. One anecdote related by his mother even has a 5-year-old Jacob picking up a bowling ball and ready to plow it on another kid's head before she stopped him.
  • False Confession: Leonard Patz is coerced into confessing he murdered Ben to clear Jacob.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: The series, especially the first episodes, has a grayish color palette and features many rainy shots, mirroring the grave topic of the series.
  • How We Got Here: The show starts with Andy being interrogated by LoGiudice in court and then flashes back 10 months to the start of the story.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Leonard Patz is strangled, then made to look like he hung himself.
  • Murder-Suicide: Laurie tries to kill Jacob and also herself at the end. Both survive.
  • Never Suicide: The pedophile who wrote his confession and then allegedly committed suicide was forced to do both.
  • Offing the Offspring: Laurie attempts to kill her son Jacob, convinced he's a murderer.
  • The Reveal: The confession that exonerates Jacob for Ben Rifkin's murder was actually extorted at gunpoint by an acolyte of Andy's criminal father.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Hope and technically Jacob.