ID’s Natalia Grace Doc & Lifetime’s Gypsy Rose Blanchard Series Were The “Barbenheimer Of True-Crime”, Says WBD True-Crime Chief

Investigation Discovery’s The Curious Case of Natalia Grace and Lifetime’s The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard both opened with stellar ratings, highlighting the continued success of true-crime on television.

In fact, it’s the “Barbenheimer of true-crime,” according to Warner Bros Discovery exec Jason Sarlanis.

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Sarlanis, President, TBS, TNT, truTV, ID & HLN for Linear & Streaming at WBD, said, “What [Lifetime] was able to do with Gypsy Rose and we had with Natalia Grace was like our own little Barbenheimer of true-crime happening. That only really happens if you’re willing to find the good things and find the optimism in every single meeting.”

Sarlanis was speaking Monday at Realscreen in New Orleans on a panel alongside Lifetime’s SVP Original Programming Brie Miranda Bryant; Scout Production co-founder David Collins; WME partner and agent Ryan McNeily; and Susie Jones, head of factual at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ID launched The Curious Case of Natalia Grace in May 2023 and followed it up with Natalia Speaks earlier this month. The network said the two series reached more than 10 million viewers across linear and streaming.

Natalia Speaks follows Natalia Grace Barnett as she shares her story and confronts her former adoptive parents Michael and Kristine Barnett’s accusations head on. Picking up where the finale of the first installment left off, Natalia Speaks retraced her adoption saga and the Barnett’s allegations from Natalia’s perspective, offering insight into what really went on behind closed doors in the Barnett’s home.

The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard is a six-hour special that features unprecedented access to Blanchard, a victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy who suffered horrific abuse and made national headlines for her role in her mother’s violent murder.

The documentary features Blanchard in prison on the eve of her parole hearing as she recounts her emotional journey of being forced to remain a child, held prisoner by her own mother and the unfathomable choice she made in order to survive. The doc also follows the road to Gypsy’s prison wedding and reveals Ryan, her fiancé, for the first time.

While Blanchard was incarcerated at the time of the interviews, she was released from prison before its Lifetime debut.

The series reached 9.8 million viewers across linear and digital platforms, according to Lifetime, which said it was the network’s best new nonfiction performance in two years, since the release of its Janet Jackson documentary.

“I feel like if we’re in this business, we have to be optimistic. You have to think that every meeting you go into you might be hearing about the next zeitgeist-capturing show,” said Sarlanis.

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