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Dec 14, 2021The fact is startling, but it's not so interesting to watch it. I still can't figure out the intention of Michelle Carter. Human psychology!familiar s Super Reviewer
Oct 16, 2021Saddest depiction of young love and suicidal thoughts mixed with manipulation along w/ the horror of knowing that this is a true story. You feel heartache for the mom who's clearly devastated and trying to survive throughout. You'll find yourself so angry and not able to comprehend how/why it happened.
Oct 07, 2021A balanced overview of an unprecedented case Erin Lee Carr's two-part HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, takes as its subject the story of the 2014 case where Michelle Carter, a 17-year-old woman encouraged her suicidal 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, III to kill himself, and was subsequently charged with involuntary manslaughter. Looking at issues of technology, mental health, the ethicality of prescribing powerful SSRIs to teenagers, a reductionist media that pushes an easy-to-digest narrative based on familiar tropes and themes at the expense of the more multifaceted, complex, and uncomfortable reality, and, of course, whether one person can be held legally responsible for another's suicide, the show doesn't so much take a side as work to remind viewers that more than one side exists. And although there are some notable problems, it does a pretty decent job overall. According to journalist Jesse Barron, "the biggest mystery of this story is not why Michelle Carter did what she did, but what Michelle Carter thought she was doing", and this is a central point – Michelle's own understanding of her actions are at the centre of everything. Certainly, her actions were inhuman, immoral, and abhorrent, but did she intend them as such? Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin argues that Michelle became overwhelmed by the caretaker role Conrad had assigned to her and posits that in early July, she became "involuntarily intoxicated"; a result of her being on Prozac. However, in an example of the show's balance, we immediately cut to another psychiatrist pointing out that there's no agreement that involuntary intoxication as a medical diagnosis is even real. The show makes a solid argument that, in this case, Occam's razor does not apply; the simplest explanation for Conrad's death – that Michelle manipulated him into committing suicide so she could elicit sympathy from those around her – is not necessarily the most likely explanation. This is not simply a case of hideous sociopathy; it's far more psychologically complex, and Carr does a fine job of peeling back the layers to illustrate this complexity. Such context does not, in any way, excuse what Michelle said or how she acted, nor does the show suggest as much. But it does go some way to explaining her psychology; in a case where context has been ignored, yet context is everything, the show attempts to provide the viewer with that context, revealing Michelle's own deeply disturbed psyche and psychological trauma. However, there are some problems. Take Breggin's centrality. Should a psychiatrist who says something like, "she's clearly out of her mind and so is he" really have such a prominent role in a show of this nature? There's also no mention of the fact that he's against psychiatric drugs in general, nor is there anything about how, in 1987, after appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show and telling psychiatric patients not to take their medication, he was brought before a disciplinary board. The biggest problem, however, is that neither Michelle nor any of her family participated in the film. Given how concerned Carr is with understanding what was going on in Michelle's head, this is a considerable problem. Several of Conrad's family appear, and the cumulative effect is to convey just how crippling his mental health issues were. In terms of Michelle, however, the only person who speaks to her mindset is Breggin. Along the same lines, Conrad's background and family life are sketched pretty thoroughly, but Michelle's is left completely blank – we learn absolutely nothing about her childhood or parents, who are never even mentioned. This is a significant misstep on Carr's part, and the lack of background contextualisation renders Michelle as something of an impenetrable question mark, which works against the show's attempts to elucidate her mindset and motivation. Nevertheless, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter is an informative engagement with a case of huge complexity and importance. Challenging the prevailing media depiction of Michelle, Carr sets out to remind the viewer that things are more complicated than they may have been led to believe. Never advocating for Michelle's complete innocence nor endorsing the devil woman persona, Carr stays fairly balanced throughout. She acknowledges that Michelle's actions and words were indefensible and inhuman, but so too does she argue sociopathy may not have been the primary cause. The central question of the case is whether Conrad would have killed himself had Michelle not encouraged him to do so. The easy answer is "no, he wouldn't". Carr, however, suggests that that question may be unanswerable. What happened is clear. But Carr is attempting to remind us that why it happened is a much more complex question.