Rapid Insights: Depp v. Heard Revisits the Drama of the Infamous Celebrity Trial

Tomorrow, Netflix will release a three-part documentary series on the notorious celebrity defamation case that gripped the world, spawned thousands of memes, and became the first “trial by TikTok.” The series will present litigants Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s jarring testimonies side-by-side while exploring the striking impact of social media on truth and justice in today’s society.

Here’s what you need to know about Depp v. Heard:

Vault uses index scores to describe the impact a given story/theme/element will have on specific KPIs: 
≤79 Disappointing  80-89 Challenging  90-109 Average  110-119 Promising  120+ Outstanding

Who will be tuning in for this courtroom-based documentary? 
We’re predicting an audience that leans female (54%) and is mostly older (68% aged 30+), the same general profile of true crime fans watching shows like The Jinx, The Trials of Gabriel Hernandez, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, and The Way Down.

Why will audiences want to press play?
For the can’t-look-away intrigue. The real-life Courtroom Drama (160) of the infamous he-said/she-said civil trial and the Secrets & Lies (138) revealed as each side’s lawyers tried to catch the other in a falsehood will prove irresistible to viewers, even as the documentary itself pursues a more critical angle. These elements are also what people will be talking about online (again).

What will keep viewers watching?
Sarcastic Humor (122). The show’s bingeability will be driven by the comedic awkwardness of the trial itself as well as the funny off-the-cuff remarks made by both parties on the stand. In addition, the documentary will highlight the snarky wit of the accompanying online commentary as it explores users’ reactions on social media.

What type of story will the documentary be telling?
An inside look at a marriage gone bad. After all the melodrama, the relatability of Depp and Heard’s troubled Married Life (120) is the second most-crucial viewership driver for this limited series. Depictions of their difficult Personal Backstories (119) and Dysfunctional Relationship (118) spiraling into alleged Domestic Abuse (119) will help make both celebrities feel very real and human.

How important is the fame of the litigants?
Somewhat. The household-name status of Depp in particular adds flavor to the proceedings–his Stardom (117) and public Scandal (115) are indeed viewership draws–but it’s the personal details drawn out in the case that will ultimately prove more crucial to the ratings. In this, Depp v. Heard fits in with other A-list-focused unscripted series where the details of the subjects’ lives, families, and personalities are more important than their general societal prominence: the Mother-Child Relationships (120) in The Kardashians, Magic Johnson’s Charisma & Confidence (125) in They Call Me Magic, the Coach-Athlete Relationship (120) in Neymar: The Perfect Chaos, and the band’s Camaraderie (125) in The Beatles: Get Back.


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*Publicly released trailers for series are evaluated using Vault’s algorithms – utilizing our proprietary 120K+ story element database alongside ratings performance and other datasets – to identify unique combinations of stories, themes, characters, and genre elements that will drive success.

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