The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has taken Netflix to task over a series that it says paints the region in a dark light.
When producers approached authorities about making a documentary in the area, they said it would focus on changes in the county following the legalization of marijuana and challenges the rural area faces, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
But officials aren’t happy with the result: a six-episode series called “Murder Mountain,” which premiered on Netflix in December. The Sheriff’s Office says that instead of the original pitch, the “highly sensationalized” show focuses on the death of one man, 29-year-old Garret Rodriguez.
In a Facebook post published last week, officials called the series an “incomplete narrative” that depicted Humboldt County in a “dark” light.
The series takes place in the Rancho Sequoia area east of Garberville, Calif., nicknamed “Murder Mountain,” and centers on the homicide investigation of Rodriguez, who disappeared after moving from San Diego. His body was found in a shallow grave in December 2013 after he had been missing for about a year.
Executives for the show said the investigation into Rodriguez’s death exposes “a wild, lawless place” controlled by pot farmers.
“ ‘Murder Mountain’ is a riveting tale about vigilante justice and outlaw culture in a lawless community that resembles America’s Wild West past,” executive producers Jonathan and Simon Chinn told Variety in November ahead of the show’s Netflix premiere. The Lightbox-produced series first aired on the Fusion network before being available for streaming on Netflix in late December.
In its Facebook post, the Sheriff’s Office said the show did not accurately portray its involvement in the Rodriguez case.
“To those of you who have seen this series, please understand that you heard one side of a highly sensationalized story,” sheriff’s officials said in the post. “As a matter of standard operating procedure, we will not jeopardize the prosecution of a case because of the media pressure or desire to run a story.”
Director Joshua Zeman said there was no intention to portray the county in a negative light.
“Our intention is not to disparage the Sheriff’s Office but rather to bring these issues to light,” he said.
Zeman added that he thinks it’s important for the public to hear the perspective of residents, who are the ones to grapple with violence and other issues arising from the state’s legalization of marijuana.
“If ‘Murder Mountain’ feels like a sensationalized, disheveled mess of greed filled violence, then it’s because of the War on Drugs,” resident Myles Moscato wrote in a Facebook post. “Murder Mountain is both entertaining and educational.”