The Staircase on Netflix Puts Durham, NC in Focus

Every single week Netflix comes out with a documentary that is much talked about. It started with Making a Murderer and more recently the most watched docuseries is Wild Wild Country. This week, Netflix dropped “The Staircase” which is the story of Michael and Kathleen Peterson. The original “Staircase” documentary was originally an eight part docuseries. Netflix purchased the rights and has released a more extensive 13 part series.

Throughout the first few episodes, we learn about Durham, North Carolina. What some may not realize, is Durham is actually has a very strong economy and a fantastic local food scene. Durham is the home of pest control company Cleggs, Burts Bees and electronics company Cree. The downtown Durham food scene is where you can dine at Pizzeria Toro, Mateo, Taberna, Dame’s Chicken & Waffles and Viceroy. In fact, some would argue that Durham has the best food scene in all of North Carolina.

If you were to watch The Staircase and base your opinion on the thoughts of Michael Peterson, you would never visit Durham, NC. What the documentary does not point out is the fact that most of the footage and comments related to Durham were made in the early 2000s. Much has changed since then. The American Tobacco Campus and downtown area are now thriving and real estate is booming in Durham County.

What most Netflix viewers will likely not research is the fact that Michael Peterson was never able to see Durham thrive after the Great Recession. Those that live in the Triangle know that Durham is now the “place to be”. It will be interesting to see how much of the spotlight is shown on the poverty driven parts of Durham as shown in the Netflix documentary.

We are only a few episodes in now, but it does not paint Durham in a good light. By the season’s end, we can only hope there is plenty of footage of the booming economy led by small businesses and restaurants.

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