Connect with us
Web of Make Believe review
Image: Netflix

TV

Netflix’s The Web of Make Believe Gets Off to a Scary Start 

Conspiracy. Fraud. Violence. Murder. What starts out virtual can get real all too quickly–and when the web is worldwide, so are the consequences.

Netflix this week is debuting Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet, a new series about the Internet and the terrible things people do on it- and the way terrible things tend to spill over into real life. It’s a six-episode series, each episode about an hour long. 

The show, which debuts all six episodes on June 15, covers some somewhat familiar ground and sometimes falls into cliche, but it’s nevertheless eye-opening. 

The series was created by Brian Knappenberger, who previously made such tech-focused documentaries The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are executive producers. 

The first episode of the series, “Death by SWAT,” is appropriately chilling, focusing on the act known as Swatting. It’s a crime — sometimes, very understatedly, referred to as a “prank” — in which someone calls the cops on someone else, usually telling them that a terrible crime was committed at the person’s home. 

Image: Netflix

When the SWAT teams and other police arrive, preparing to confront an armed killer, it’s meant to scare the victim. But in the worst-case scenario, the victim ends up dead. Other times, it results in school lockdowns, the suspects shooting at cops, or lasting trauma even if no shots are fired. It also — much lower down on the list of concerns — costs police a lot of time and money. 

The “Death by Swat” episode details some of those scenarios, a couple of which resulted from low-stakes video gaming disputes, including a $150 bet. We hear from the people affected by a couple of instances of such crimes, including the children of one man who was killed in a SWAT attack when the caller gave the wrong address. 

It’s scary stuff, in large part because there’s not exactly an easy solution when it comes to putting a stop to swatting. 

Web of Make Believe
Image: Netflix

Other episodes of the series deal with more politically salient topics. The second, “A Murder in DC,” deals with the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich in 2016, which led to rampant conspiracy theories involving Wikileaks, and eventually to QAnon. The third, “I’m Not a Nazi,” deals with a woman who fell into extremism, while the fourth, “Sextortion,” speaks to women faced with sexual blackmail. 

The final two episodes are a two-parter called “The Stingray,” dealing with hackers and the FBI’s pursuit of them. 

The episodes have some of the hacky touches often associated with Internet-based documentaries, most notably spooky music. But to its credit, it mostly avoids trying to animations of cyberspace, since that’s been an annoying cliche for about 20 years now. 

It’s not the best documentary about the worst parts of the Internet today — that honor goes to last year’s Q: Into the Storm on HBO — but Web of Make Believe, in the early going is finding an interesting way in. 

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. A.

    July 13, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    It was a $1.50 bet, not $150.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

‘Trigger Warning’ Review: Supersoldier Jessica Alba Wages War on Domestic Criminals in Slick but Contrived Melodrama

Film

Kate Bosworth and Justin Long Relationship Timeline: How Long Have They Been Married? 

Celebrity

Willie Mays Cause of Death: How Did the Baseball Legend and Hall of Famer Die?

Celebrity

Marc Summers and Alice Filous 50th Anniversary! Celebrating 50 Decades of Love!

Celebrity

Ian McKellen Hospitalized After Stage Fall: Ian Fell During Performance in London!

Celebrity

Who Is Henry Cavill’s Girlfriend? Discover the Wife of a Famous British Actor!

Celebrity

Quavo Joined by Vice President Kamala Harris at Anti-Gun Violence Event Declaring ‘Takeoff Day’ in Atlanta

Celebrity

Ariana DeBose Tony Awards Entourage: Sings and Dances for During Tony Awards 2024 Kick-off!

Celebrity

Celine Dion Cries at N.Y.C Documentary Premiere: Dion Receives Standing Ovation, Thanks Her Children!

Celebrity

Kanye West & Ty Dolla Sign’s “VULTURES 1” Removed From Spotify To The Dismay Of Fans

Celebrity

What Happened To US Olympic Gymnast Nastia Liukin?

Celebrity

Benji Gregory Dead at 46: What Killed The ALF Child Star?

Celebrity

Who is Miranda Lambert? All About America’s Famous Country Singer, Songwriter

Celebrity

Hong Kong Disneyland Cuts Losses, Repays Loan to Disney

Lifestyle

John Force Fiery Crash: NHRA Legend John Force Moved to Neurological Intensive Care!

Celebrity

Prince William Celebrates Birthday with His Children at Taylor Swift’s London Concert

News

Connect