I Just Killed My Dad sounds like a sensational title for a docu-series but those are the very words Anthony Templet uttered to a 911 operator on June 3, 2019.
At the beginning of this Netflix original series, Templet seems very much like a young man that murdered his father in cold blood. But as the layers are peeled back, we see a very different side to him. Much like in the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, Anthony was a product of his environment and a victim of abuse. That doesn’t necessarily indicate that he’s free of any blame in the ordeal. But the more we learn about the death of Anthony’s father, Burt Templet, the less cut-and-dried the matter of Anthony’s guilt becomes.
In 2019, Anthony Templet had an altercation with his father that made him fear for his safety. In response to the hostile exchange, the young man grabbed two guns and shot and killed his dad. While the case seems like it might be open and shut from there, the inciting act proves to be more of a jumping-off point to get to the bottom of what led to that act of violence.
As any reputable docu-series should, this Netflix original program presents both sides of the case and gives the viewer the chance to form their own opinions regarding Anthony’s actions on that fateful day.
At the onset of I Just Killed My Dad, Anthony appears withdrawn and detached. But as his story unfolds, it becomes clear that his demeanor is a product of his experience. As he gradually begins to open up more, we see a very different side to Anthony. We see a boy that has been mistreated, abused, and neglected. We come to find out he was routinely isolated from the outside world to allow his father to control him without external oversight. And we additionally learn he was told his biological mother was dead (when she was very much alive).
Every aspect of Anthony’s existence was orchestrated by a man that worked to make him a prisoner in his own home. Anthony was so detached from reality that, when police questioned him, he was unsure of personal details like his year of birth and home address.
Eventually, this Netflix series introduces us to the man trying to debunk the case against Anthony, defense attorney Jarrett Ambeau. Ambeau is nothing short of an inspiring human. He comes from very humble beginnings but has managed to make quite a name for himself in the criminal defense arena. The way he advocates for his client serves as a welcome reminder that there are still great people in this world. Though Ambeau readily admits he has made his share of bad choices, he graciously chose to take on Anthony’s case pro bono. And Ambeau spared no expense in ensuring Anthony received a first-rate defense that he surely wouldn’t have gotten with a public defender. The idea that Ambeau saw an injustice and selflessly gave of his time and resources is touching.
In addition to Ambeau in his corner, Anthony has several family members that eventually come to his aid and rally for him. It’s reassuring to see people close to him looking past what happened and evaluating the mitigating circumstances. It’s a pleasure to see this young man, that has lived his entire life in fear of his father, learning what it means to be unconditionally loved and supported. I can’t imagine the pain he endured growing up in an abusive household where he was continuously subjected to cruelty. As such, seeing him find a support system is nothing short of inspirational.
Anthony’s story vacillates between heartbreaking and heartwarming throughout the course of this Netflix series. There are triumphant moments where the viewer is given reason to believe things may eventually be ok for the young man. And there are gut-wrenching developments that suggest the exact opposite. The viewing experience is a winding and unpredictable ride that had me captivated throughout the duration. I binged the entire series in a single sitting. By the end of the third episode, my jaw was on the floor. I could have never predicted that the ordeal would end as it did.
Ultimately, a life was lost. And that is a tragedy. But there’s a lot to sort through regarding Anthony’s guilt or innocence. And until someone has walked in his shoes, it’s impossible to know how we would react under those dire circumstances.
If you’re curious to take the series in for yourself, you can check it out on Netflix now.
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