‘The Staircase’ Shows Whiteness on Display

MJ Adia
4 min readMay 17, 2022

There are three things anyone who watches murder mysteries will know, but the fourth is that white men often get the benefit of the doubt.

man falling down the stairs, blood splashing
Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash, Edited on Canva by Author

I am about 6:38 minutes into a series The Staircase, and I can’t help it, I had to open up Medium and start writing. WTF? is all I can ask.

Ok, first, a man calls 9–1–1 saying that his wife has fallen down the stairs and she is unconscious. After the police arrive, his drunken son stumbles into the house. The officer guarding the door says, “Ok, just you,” allowing him to pass without his friend. At the foot of the stairs, it looks as though a woman was sliced somewhere in her body, and she is sprawled out at the bottom of the staircase, blood splattering the walls. The husband is, get this, in the kitchen, ALONE, sobbing into his blood-stained hands. No handcuffs, because according to him, his wife “fell down the stairs.” I was wondering if perhaps a cop would go over to the stove and offer to put on a spot of tea for the despondent widower.

Error number two, the father runs to the dead woman’s body, clutching her and weeping.

“Get him off of her,” says an officer calmly to the other police, but no one makes a move to remove the man. I guess they don’t want to add to his grief? The son eventually has to pull him off.

Am I to understand that no one in of the house full of police officers, suspected that this might be a crime scene? No one wondered if the white, wealthy man may have murdered his wife? That he could have been tampering with evidence when he fell onto her body? And how does someone “fall down the stairs” and have blood splashed against the wall, and land face up, legs out in front, facing away from the stairs? No one is going to question the drugged-out son who shows up out of the blue just as soon as the police arrive? I prithee, doeth better.

Now, the hardest part for me to fathom is that this isn’t only for dramatic effect, that maybe the police’s attitude in the film reflected their actual response. This series was based on real events, and it took the medical examiner’s finding that the wife was killed with a blunt object before the husband was questioned. As I said, I only saw 6:38 minutes, so my mind isn’t completely made up on this story, but I have enough straw to…

MJ Adia

Black-Filipina. Lived in Peru for 5 years. LICSW, dancer, meditator. Writes about multiculturalism, cinema, race, social issues.