The Keepers, Netflix’s engrossing seven-part docuseries (debuted May 19), investigates how the unsolved 1969 murder of a Baltimore nun was connected to a dark and traumatic conspiracy in the city. Here’s what you should know before diving into this irresistible binge:
It’s not a just about a homicide
The Keepers begins with the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, 26, an English teacher at a Baltimore all-girls Catholic high school. The show burrows beyond that crime to reveal that her death was part of a sinister story in which several female students were allegedly raped by the high school’s chaplain. “What we’re looking at… is a network of child sex abuse,” says director and EP Ryan White. “It’s also about the institutional cover-ups in this web.”
The Keepers is personal
White’s aunt was a student of Cesnik’s, but he knew nothing about the festering mystery until she brought it to his attention three years ago. Weeks later, White flew to Baltimore to explore. “Even for tangential people like my aunt, entire life trajectories were affected by the death of this woman they looked up to,” says White, who relied on Cesnik’s former students’ investigations. “There would be no story if it weren’t for these women deciding this has to finally come out.”
Making a Murderer this is not
While watercooler hits like Netflix’s Making a Murderer focused on accused perpetrators, Keepers‘ main subjects are the victims — Cesnik and the rape survivors. “It focuses on how these people were harmed,” says White, adding that the series zeroes in on perpetrators and potential suspects. “Hopefully viewers will…come away with a larger understanding of the issue at hand, but also of the problem that was taking place in Baltimore and, I think, is still taking place today.”
The entire first season of The Keepers is available on Netflix now. Read our binge recap of the season here.