REVIEW: ‘Killer Inside: The mind of Aaron Hernandez’ wrongfully uses homosexuality as an angle to entice viewers, explain a vicious crime

It is not surprising to learn that Netflix has released yet another true crime series. True crime has been wildly popular across all platforms since the release of “Making of a Murderer” in 2015. Entering the mindset of a killer is compelling to many, but the genre is starting to get repetitive. 

This documentary investigates the life of Aaron Hernandez before his conviction of the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd in 2015. It recounts Hernandez’s football career, starting from his high-pressure success in high school, to becoming an adored tight end on the New England Patriots. The main question begging to be answered was: what lead a successful man like Hernandez down the path of murder?

What is surprising, if not concerning, is how Netflix’s “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” uses homosexuality as its angle to separate itself from the crowd. 

Through recordings of Hernandez in prison and interviews with key members of his life, the documentary attempts to piece together a story of a man who was raised in an environment dominated by toxic masculinity, to the point of the denial of his own sexuality. 

During the investigation of Lloyd’s death, police tied Hernandez to a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston and consequently charged him with double murder. Hernandez was found not guilty of the shooting in 2017. Soon after this verdict, Hernandez’s sexuality became the topic of speculation on a popular Boston radio sports show. Two days after the show ‘outed’ him as a gay man, Aaron Hernandez killed himself in prison, burying the answer of his true motives with him. 

Netflix does not outright present suppressed homosexuality as the leading factor in Hernandez’s crime. The limited series explores the effects of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, in football leading that can stunt mental health growth and uses it as a glorification of the gangster lifestyle. However, the series lingers on Hernandez’s sexuality for far longer than any other subject with questionable sources. 

Dennis SanSoucie, a childhood friend and teammate of Hernandez, claimed that he was an early sexual partner of the football star and stated that they were in a “secret relationship” in high school. SanSoucie explained that as children they thought “If we get caught, our parents are gonna disown us.”

Hernandez’s father, at first presented as a man revered among his community, is then revealed to have been aggressive and homophobic. As a consequence, Hernandez was said to have secretly grown inside a household of domestic abuse and toxic masculinity. 

The only other source within the documentary that spoke of Hernandez’s sexuality was another teammate, who was seemingly included only to offer more speculation on how Hernandez was feeling as a closeted football player. 

Netflix then jumps to suggest that a possible motive for Hernandez’s violent crime was that Odin Lloyd knew of his sexuality, without providing any facts to back up that claim. 

The fact is that Netflix only offers its audience theories and no concrete answers. Normally that would be fine and the series would join the long list of mediocre true crime documentaries. But the way that Aaron Hernandez’s story is sensationalized to make homosexuality stand out as a reason for an otherwise motive-less crime, sets this documentary apart from the rest. 

Jose Baez, Hernandez’s defense attorney, went on record with EW News to say that he regrets participating in the documentary series after the producers “lied directly to [his] face.” Baez found multiple aspects of the documentary series to be offensive, with the emphasis on Hernandez’s sexuality being one of them. 

To explore a man’s self-identity conflict is one thing, but Netflix made the assumption that suppressed homosexuality could lead to the violent crime Aaron Hernandez committed. It is not only damaging to Hernandez’s family, who have already suffered and lost, but to the LGBTQ+ community as well. 

There was a clear narrative that “Killer Inside: The mind of Aaron Hernandez” was trying to tell. It’s a shame that a company that prides itself on inclusivity and representation within its leadership and content has resorted to sensationalizing sexuality for higher viewership. 

Netflix’s newest true crime documentary series hardly feels like true crime at all, but a contrived story with little evidence to back up its claims.