Brow Beat

Michelle Wolf Cashes in on the True Crime Craze With This Ad for a Ten-Part Documentary Called The Husband Did It

A wedding picture of the murdered bride and suspicious-looking husband from The Husband Did It.
Is this the face of a murderer? Netflix

Biting the hand that feeds you has been a staple of comedy since at least the days of David Letterman (or Hop-Frog, depending on your sense of humor), but using Netflix’s money to produce a vicious parody of overly-long true crime documentaries in which the announcer sneers, “Binge it now, you vultures,” like Michelle Wolf just did, goes above and beyond. Binge it now, you vultures:

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It’s true that Wolf is a little late to catch the true crime wave—not to be confused with the true crimewave, which is false—and the genre’s tropes have already been relentlessly and comprehensively skewered on shows like A Very Fatal Murder and Netflix’s own American Vandal. What’s great about this segment is the detail work, particularly the family photos of the creepy, murderous husband looking creepy and murderousy while his soon-to-be-murdered wife beams at the camera. And then there are the newspaper articles: Rather than the standard newspaper-prop-for-a-movie practice of using lorem ipsum for the whole thing or writing the first paragraph at most, someone on Wolf’s staff wrote entire fictional articles about this fictional murder in a fictional ad for a fictional show. Here, for example, is the complete text of “Warnowski Trial Focuses on Peach Collared Shirt,” which runs more than 500 words despite appearing on screen for less than two seconds:

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On day two of the Rance Warnowski trial where he faces charges of strangling his wife, Rachel Warnowski, to death with a bungee cord, the prosecution has focused on the issue of a bloody peach collared shirt that was found in Mr. Warnowski’s Rav 4 the day after her murder.

While DNA tests won’t come back for another week, when the police first confronted Mr. Warnowski with the shirt during his interrogation, he responded with, “How did you find my peach collared shirt with my wife’s blood on it?” the video of which was shown to the jury. The jury requested that they be allowed to immediately find Mr. Warnowski guilty. The judge told them he liked where their head was, but … would have to continue the trial, but to take … probably wouldn’t last much longer.

The jury rolled their eyes and went back to playing on their phones, biding their time until they could sentence Mr. Warnowski to prison, a likelihood so sure Vegas is putting the odds of acquittal at 10000:1 and not a single person has taken them up on it.

The prosecution also showed the jury hair fibers that were found on the peach collared shirt and matched Mr. Warnowski’s hair color and length, along with the receipt for the peach collared shirt that had Mr. Warnowski’s signature which he had kept inside the peach collared shirt for some reason even though he had purchased it five years ago.

“Why are you showing everyone my shirt? That proves my guilt!” Rance yelled when the prosecution initially entered the peach collared shirt into evidence. His defense attorney attempted to get his statement stricken from the record, but the courtroom was too busy laughing to actually react to the legal motion. The judge eventually had to call order in the court in order to calm the room down enough to continue the case, even though at this point everyone in the room knew Mr. Warnowski would be found guilty. Sometimes in life you just have to do something for seemingly no reason except that it’s expected of you, and this is one of those times I guess. Being an adult can seem so futile sometimes, but what can you do.

Warnowski’s defense attorney eventually tried to make a case that the police planted the peach collared shirt, but Mr. Warnowski kept interrupting his lawyer saying, “NO, that is most certainly my shirt.” Apparently Mr. Warnowski is quite proud of how he looks in the shirt and wants everyone to know it is his shirt, going so far as to demand he be put on the stand so he could wear the shirt under oath to “prove that I am a very good looking man who is now single and looking for a relationship with the right woman whose neck is thin enough to be strangled by a bungee cord—something I have never done before but would like to try for the third time.”

Warnowski’s lawyer attempted to get this statement stricken from the record, but again he was ignored because everyone was laughing too hard. I cannot stress enough how unusual this case has been. In my 20 years of covering court cases, I have never seen anything like this. Normally I’m a huge fan of a fair criminal justice system, but in this case I think it’d be easier and more fair to everyone involved if we could just lock him up without finishing …

The segment’s second shot of a newspaper story, headlined “Rance Warnowski found guilty of killing his wife,” also features a solid four paragraphs of reporting about the trial, including the memorable sentence, “It was pretty clear from the start, to everybody, that he was the one who killed his wife.” Kudos to everyone on Michelle Wolf’s staff for really, really committing to this bit.

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