I'll Be Gone in the Dark: Season 1 (2020)

Season 1
I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Critics Consensus

Director Liz Garbus smartly centers I'll Be Gone in the Dark around the late Michelle McNamara's passionate efforts, weaving together a heavy, but important tapestry of trauma, obsession, and survival.



Critic Ratings: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 111

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Air date: Jun 28, 2020

A look at author Michelle McNamara's investigation regarding a violent predator she dubbed the "Golden State Killer," who terrorized California in the 1970s and '80s.

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Air date: Jul 5, 2020

Michelle McNamara reflects on the 1984 murder of her childhood neighbor Kathy Lombardo, which she credits with planting the seed for her lifelong fascination with unsolved crimes. Local detectives who worked the East Area Rapist case in the '70s—and citizen detectives who picked up where they left off—discuss a proliferation of serial rape cases in Northern California at the time, discussing an era when victims were often too ashamed to speak out and sexual crime was minimized in the press.

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Air date: Jul 12, 2020

In 1979, law enforcement is thrilled when the East Area Rapist (EAR) attacks abruptly stop in Northern California, but in reality, EAR has moved south to commit a number of gruesome murders in the Santa Barbara area, known as the "Original Night Stalker" series. The hunt for the perpetrator stalls due to lack of cooperation between jurisdictions and concerns of tarnishing the area's pristine image, leaving the community unaware of the predator in their midst.

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Air date: Jul 19, 2020

Michelle and her editors agree to push her book deadline after being granted access to the Orange County Sheriff's Department's East Area Rapist / Original Night Stalker (EAR/ONS) room. Poring over 37 boxes of files now occupying her daughter's playroom, Michelle and her researcher Paul Haynes explore the case of the "Visalia Ransacker," the perpetrator of a string of burglaries in the early '70s bearing striking similarities to EAR.

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Air date: Jul 26, 2020

Michelle's loved ones cope with her sudden death, but her work to unmask the Golden State Killer lives on. Inspired by McNamara's interest in genealogy and online DNA testing services, Contra Costa County forensics chief Paul Holes reconstructs the killer's family tree with help from genetic genealogist Barbara-Rae Venter. After inheriting Michelle's 37 boxes of case files, researcher Paul Haynes and true-crime writer Billy Jensen work with Michelle's husband, Patton Oswalt, to finish her book.

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Air date: Aug 2, 2020

In the series finale, 72-year-old former police officer Joe DeAngelo's arrest unfolds in real time, and chilling facts materialize that illuminate Michelle's prescience in her book's epilogue, "Letter to an Old Man." Exclusive interviews with DeAngelo's relatives reveal early family trauma, and his double life as a suburban dad and serial predator, while his ex-fiancée also details the behavior and warning signs that lead her to end their engagement.

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Critic Reviews for I'll Be Gone in the Dark Season 1

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (23)

This is both a satisfying story of justice restored, and a moving tribute to one woman's refusal to give up on forgotten victims.

Sep 9, 2020 | Full Review…

Imagine McNamara's single-mindedness without her restraint. Imagine the pressure to satisfy and impress a community of like-minded people without the accompanying knowledge that to speak recklessly is dangerous.

Aug 3, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

These details might seem superfluous, but as many of the series' interview subjects observe, the killer seemed possessed by a desire to desecrate and ruin the domestic solidarity of couples like Oswalt and McNamara.

Jul 1, 2020 | Full Review…
Top Critic

"I'll Be Gone in the Dark" is a compelling, flawed story of true crime and obsession - and its flaws are part of what make it so intriguing.

Jun 30, 2020 | Full Review…

"I'll Be Gone in the Dark" is more than a true crime documentary, although it succeeds in a terrifyingly brilliant way.

Jun 29, 2020 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

It doesn't have all the answers - no one does - but it asks the right questions in the right way.

Jun 26, 2020 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Top Critic

It's a necessary documentary show, but it also feels kind of disorganized. [Full review in Spanish].

Oct 5, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Killer and victims get equal time in gripping docuseries.

Aug 7, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

I'll Be Gone in the Dark is not merely a true crime documentary. Those are a dime a dozen. It is a living, breathing tribute to one woman's quest to do right for several women who had something very wrong done to them.

Aug 5, 2020 | Full Review…

Sensitive, unusual, uplifting, revelatory and deeply moving, I'll Be Gone in the Dark is one of the best true crime docu-series in a while and it's up against stiff competition.

Jun 23, 2020 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

I'll Be Gone in the Dark continues one impressive writer and investigator's legacy, while serving as a source of inspiration for us all.

Jun 23, 2020 | Full Review…

This isn't just another True Crime docuseries. It's a game-changer.

Jun 23, 2020 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for I'll Be Gone in the Dark: Season 1

  • Sep 22, 2020
    This was a much needed companion docuseries to McNamara's posthumously published true crime thriller that, in addition to the investigation laid out in her book, examines the details of her tragic and untimely passing as well as the eventual solving of a 40 year case.
  • Sep 15, 2020
    This documentary is interesting but doesn't quite make the jump to incredible. The issue that the series has is the same as the book (which I also read), albeit for a slightly different reason. The book feels incomplete because Michelle died and left so much unfinished (her writing really is incredible and it makes you really wish you could have read her completed book) and the documentary feels incomplete because the case was solved while they were filming but the outcome of a possible trial with the suspect (now admitted killer) wasn't known. The documentary tried to juggle Michelle's story, the survivor's stories, the investigation's story... It doesn't quite work. I don't really blame the filmmakers, I think they did as well as anyone could with the hand they were dealt. The result is a good, slightly uneven documentary that doesn't quite feel satisfying.
  • Sep 07, 2020
    A good documentary about the Golden State Killer and Michelle McNamara's fascination with the case. This series also provides some of the closure missing from the book it was based on, since that came out before the killer was arrested and was finished after the death of the author.
  • Sep 06, 2020
    This is just a memoir of Michelle McNamara, who by all means is just someone with an interest in the case, and personally does not have anything to do with the Golden state killer crimes. It is less coverage on the true crime part, and more on Michelle and not-so-interesting conversations of people about what kind of person she was and how their first impression was of her when they met in a cafe. Thats really not what I was looking for in a true crime show about Golden state killer Also, way too stretched, the actual content it covers could be covered in 1 episode or a movie.
  • Sep 06, 2020
    This series does drag in parts and jumps around in timeline a bit too much. But the story is fascinating and well told. Try not to watch alone at night.
  • Aug 31, 2020
    Wholly disappointed, not what I expected. Probably should have read about this series more before I started watching it, so it's also kinda my fault. In any case, this contains very little about the actual case and centers heavily on the blogger-wife of a celebrity who spent all her time into investigating the case, to the point where she got addicted to drugs and eventually overdosed and died. If you're interested about McNamara narrating her investigation, writing and trivial details of her everyday life with fancy wording, give it a go. If you're looking for an in-depth docu about the actual case, stay away.
  • Aug 25, 2020
    Too much padding! This might have been good if it had been half the length. It's a bad documentary.
  • Aug 23, 2020
    By far the best true-crime docuseries I've ever seen. The show not only succeeds in getting you invested in the case to catch this monster, as well as getting you in the headspace and personal story of the woman whose determination to catch this killer fully consumed her life, but most importantly, it gives voices to the victims and allows them to retake control of their stories. When telling other people about this show at the start, I would say that it's about "Patton Oswalt's wife." As the show went on though, all I could think about was how much of a real-life superhero Michelle McNamara was and how she deserves for everyone to know her name. But this show seems to accomplish what she set out to do in her book: giving a voice to those forced into silence and pulling back the curtain on the monster hiding in the shadow. "If you commit murder and then vanish, what you leave behind isn't just pain but absence, a supreme blankness that triumphs over everything else. The unidentified murderer is always twisting a doorknob behind a door that never opens. But his power evaporates the moment we know him. We learn his banal secrets. We watch as he's led, shackled and sweaty, into a brightly lit courtroom as someone seated several feet higher peers down unsmiling, raps a gavel, and speaks, at long last, every syllable of his birth name."
  • Aug 23, 2020
    Awful. The show focuses too much on Ms. McNamara and her fetishization of true crime, and too little on the victims of these horrific crimes. This is a shame - the victims tales and pain are real, but all Ms McNamara accomplished was to turn their tales into gory fanfic, while failing to find the man who caused their trauma. In the process, she destroyed her own life, and left her husband a widower and their child motherless. The story of the victims, and the people who actually brought the golden state killer to justice needs to be told. Ms McNamara's is, at best, a cautionary tale that we didn't need to see.
  • Aug 17, 2020
    The first episode of this series is incredible, seriously, I loved the dialogues

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