Many viewers might have been expecting something like this docu-series from Netflix the moment Depp v. Heard wrapped up last year. Netflix habitually takes such culturally popular and significant incidents to package them into two-three episode series. The series was originally made by Channel 4 and distributed by Netflix. Depp v. Heard suffers from an egregiously ignorant perspective which, even though espouses to be neutral, consistently showcases its bias toward Amber Heard.
Even though Heard faced vitriolic abuse on social media during the trial, Emma Cooper, the creator of the docu-series, comes off as a hypocrite. Her claim that the series was meant to present both cases side by side did not turn out to be true. The series keeps inserting reminders of how Heard’s case was disparaged in public opinion and how the jurors were influenced by it. There is telling evidence that the series is made with an agenda, even though the characterization, according to Cooper, was neutral.
The trial made all the headlines for almost four weeks in the US and globally as well as Depp sued his ex-wife for an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018. The Netflix docuseries, ‘Depp v. Heard’, is three episodes long. It’s more of a social commentary on how the trial was received outside the court rather than doing a diligent investigation to present the truth of the matter. Make your peace with that reality before diving into watching it. In this piece, we explain the whole incident to you, mostly restricting our artistic focus to the series itself.
Depp v Heard Netflix Docu-Series Background of the Trial:
Depp had faced significant backlash after Heard published the op-ed. The “MeToo” movement was just catching up with Hollywood, and the consensus was decisively against “powerful males” who were emblematic of the patriarchy that women activists were fighting against. The movement bolstered the allegations against Depp and inadvertently saw him getting embodied in the controversy. Heard was seen as a victim in the media trial, and Depp as the villain. In 2020, The Sun published an article that criticized Depp’s casting in the Fantastic Beast films on the basis of Heard’s allegations.
Depp‘s claim against The Sun was unsuccessful in the UK as the judge found that the materials of the newspaper article were “substantially true.” That was in itself a huge blow to Depp and his legal team. Many experts thought Depp had a sound case and could secure a favorable judgment. An appeal against the decision was disallowed as well, leaving Depp no more legal options to pursue in the UK. Instead, he chose to sue Heard in Virginia for a defamation claim in 2022.
Depp v Heard Netflix Docu-Series Analyzed & Ending Explained:
The article Heard published in The Post in 2018 was based on an incident from May 2016 in Los Angeles. Although that was the core incident mentioned in the op-ed, Heard also claimed that Depp was abusive on many other occasions.
“Truth on Trial”
In episode 1, “Truth on Trial,” Depp and Heard are initially seen as two people falling hopelessly in love on the sets of a film. Their story resembled that of Bogart and Bacall. The romance gradually turned ugly after a while and turned into this histrionic mess.
Heard claimed that Depp’s patterns of being ugly, dark, and abusive when drunk or influenced by a substance emerged in their relationship. We see a lot of material directly taken from the televised trial footage available on the internet. And as a result, a lot of evidence, like Heard’s recording from February 2016 in Depp’s mansion showing a drunk Depp hurling cabinets and snatching her phone, is presented. What is more concerning in the series is the use of social media commentators who shamelessly prodded every moment of the trial to sell content.
Cooper marries the content of the trial with so much unnecessary commentary that it becomes unwatchable at times. It was clear that social media was decisively in Depp’s favor. There is no point in bringing it up again. By making this choice, Cooper robbed her series of any sense of narrative direction and made the overall project very chaotic. Sitting through it is juggling all this frivolous information that keeps pouring in from the side that has no bearing on the crux of the matter – either to Heard or Depp.
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Some of the hotly contested and broadcasted incidents, like Heard’s birthday in April 2016, are brought up in the episode. Johnny Depp owns a series of penthouses in LA, one of which became the place to celebrate Heard’s birthday. She struck him during the celebrations, and he called the wedding over. She went to Coachella the next day with her friends. When Depp thought this would be the perfect time to collect his things, he found that Heard had allegedly played a prank on her by defecating on the bed.
Another incident a month later, in May, is brought up when Heard once again claimed Depp threw a cell phone at her face. One of her friends listened to the entire conversation on the phone and even called 911. Both Heard and Depp had the exact same description of what was said and how it all unfolded, except for the most significant detail. Heard claimed Depp threw a phone at her face. Depp claimed he didn’t even go near her when the incident happened. She went to a court six days later for a restraining order.
“Breaking the Internet”
Episode 2 is more of the same as the first episode in terms of structure and detailing of the case. Many significant moments from the trial turned the tide in Depp’s favor. One of them was the “Australia incident” while Depp was shooting for Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (which is no longer going forward). This happened right after their marriage in February 2015 in the Bahamas. Depp and Heard had dispersed to work on projects and returned a few weeks later in Australia when the shooting started.
The day Heard came back, she alleged that Depp pulled out MDMA. He wanted to do drugs with her, which she was not ready for. According to Depp, he wanted to sign a postnup agreement for the incident that the marriage went south. She became chaotic and violent when Depp proposed to do this. In this incident, Depp severed the tip of his finger. He locked himself in different rooms to avoid a physical altercation with her which she was actively seeking.
She allegedly threw a vodka bottle at him that severed his finger. Heard’s version was quite brutal to hear again in the series. She alleged that Depp sexually assaulted her with the bottle as he was drunk and under the influence of drugs. This brought significant backlash from victims of abuse (who clearly favored Depp), who did not take this kindly. Morgan Tremaine’s comments about TMZ and the video Heard sent them in regard to Depp’s mansion in 2016 also feature here. Depp opened up about his substance abuse that started at a very young age.
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He described his experience with his mother’s nerve pills at the age of 11. Due to his chaotic household, Depp took them to calm himself down. The episode also features the compact makeup kit controversy. Heard’s lawyers showed a Milani kit that Heard used to cover up bruises. But the company came out and claimed that the kit was launched in 2017, not when Depp was allegedly abused.
“The Viral Verdict”
The final episode featured the staircase incident in March 2015, where Whitney, Heard’s sister, testified that she had seen Depp physically hurt Heard. Although she was an important witness, Heard’s statement about Kate Moss got all the attention. Heard alleged that Moss was also thrown off the stairs on one occasion by Depp. But it turned out to be a rumor as Moss testified that he was never abusive towards her. This destroyed Heard’s already fragile credibility.
Both sides indulged in character assassinations by bringing in psychologists to disparage each other’s repute. The verdict was announced in Depp’s favor. The case was later settled between the two, with Heard agreeing to pay him $1 million in damages. Cooper bookended the series by highlighting the role of public opinion in the final outcome of the case, which is insulting to the justice system and the integrity of the jurors.
What she asserts can be true with any case decided in the courts, especially if it involves such high-profile celebrities. Cooper’s framing of social media commentators was completely ineffective because of its interlink with her hidden agenda to shore up Heard’s case and gain sympathy for her. Granted, Haard must be afforded more leeway than she was. But she brought it upon herself by trying to become the center of attention. There might be some truth to her claims, and the fact that they weren’t considered seriously is tragic. But her manner of bringing them to the surface through a self-aggrandizing manner is what led to her downfall.
Netflix’s docu-series Depp v. Heard is certainly not aligned with the truth. It has been made to shore up the case for Heard, who has been living in anonymity after the trial. The evidence of bias is overwhelming and draws the narrative toward an even path that is full of hiccups for the viewer. If you want to learn about the case without the noise of cringe social media commentators selling their souls for money or any external influence, just watch the trial available on YouTube. The trial itself is unfortunate. This matter should have been kept privy to Depp and Heard from the get-go.
Heard took the first step with her op-ed and public coverage. Depp did not hold back and wanted the world to hear his side of the story as well. The case is a lot of “he said, she said.” In fact, most of the information is not verifiable. The marriage itself was abusive. There shouldn’t be any doubt that the individuals were involved in hurting each other. One will never know the truth of the matter, and all we see are the opinions and beliefs of other people. The cultural commentary in Depp v. Heard is distorted, spineless, and unoriginal. America’s moral decay is serious, and that is the more concerning issue to come out of this ill-conceived series.