Getty Image / NBC
It’s been almost 50 years since the Manson Family murdered Sharon Tate in a horrific scene on August 8, 1969. The gruesome attack, along with the LaBianca murders the next night, has lived in popular culture due to the famous nature of its victims and the media born from its actions. It also helps that Charles Manson has been a fixture thanks to his wild nature and odd acts within prison.
Books like Helter Skelter and shows like Aquarius have attempted to capture the story the best that they can, but it would seem that the latter is rubbing the family of Sharon Tate the wrong way. Tate’s sister Debra has taken to the media in order to raise some awareness to the show’s depiction of the murders, noting NBC’s reluctance to acknowledge her requests according to Variety:
One of the teaser trailers for the show, for example, shows a dead Sharon Tate on the ground and a close-up of her face as Manson walks over her. Debra Tate was given no warning of the trailer’s explicit nature and was very distraught.
“If it were our dead bodies lying on the floor, you don’t want the world witnessing that,” she added.
Tate said she requested a sit-down with NBC but was “completely ignored.” So although it seems unlikely the network would take the show off the air as she would prefer, she would like NBC to at least apologize.
“Do it tastefully, or at least give us courtesy of knowing what you guys are doing,” she asked. “It’s extremely insensitive to be portraying people in an untruthful manner.”
She also posted about the show on her Twitter account, noting that a boycott would be “generous” for Aquarius:
— Debra Tate (@debra_tate9) June 17, 2016
American Crime Story is mentioned in the Variety report as featuring a similar backlash from the Goldman family, but one difference for that show and Aquarius is definitely the point of view. The actual murder is not the focal point of The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, instead focusing on the trial. While that’s definitely hard to relive for the victim’s family, it is hardly in the same category as depicting the Tate murders on television, with Charles Manson as a central character. If anything, take the description of the night from Charles Watson’s prison memoir on his time with the Manson family:
Finally I stood up and went back inside with Katie. Sadie was sitting next to Sharon on the couch as the pathetic blond woman sobbed, begging us to take her with us and let her have her baby before we killed her. It was the first time I’d realized she was pregnant, and for a moment it almost seemed like a good idea. But then Katie hissed, “Kill her!” and Charlie’s tape whirred, “Kill her!” inside my head and I looked at Sadie. But she just sat there holding Sharon, so I reached out and made the first cut across her cheek. Later, Prosecutor Bugliosi-because of some things Susan-Sadie bragged about in jail in one of her attempts to get attention-was convinced that it was she who killed Sharon Tate, but his suspicion was not true. It was my hand that struck out, over and over, until the cries of “Mother . . . mother . . .” stopped. Suddenly it seemed very quiet. It was over.
Having a murder like this recreated on national television is definitely crossing a line for the family. True crime is a popular with viewers, but where is the line drawn? And if anything, where do you need to ask for some sort of permission before drudging up terrible memories. You can see one of the previews below and decide for yourself.