A brand new podcast from HBO Max and Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios, “HBO Docs Club,” is pulling back the curtain on their favorite HBO documentaries. Hosts Brittany Luse, whose voice you may recognize from “For Colored Nerds,” and Ronald Young Jr. from “Solvable” are diving deep into the true stories that are captivating audiences. From political scandals to psychological thrillers, family secrets to missing people, “HBO Docs Club” is pulling from HBO new releases and the archive to take a closer look.
This first episode of “HBO Docs Club” is just under an hour long and looks at the 2020 documentary Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children, directed by filmmaker Sam Pollard. This critically acclaimed five-part series chronicles the Atlanta Child Murders, when over 30 Black children and young adults either disappeared or were murdered in just two years. Brittany and Ronald compare their own memories from the tragedy, when Atlanta was trying to rewrite its reputation. From 1979 to 1981, someone terrorized families in Atlanta while all law enforcement and city officials tried to do was sweep it under the rug.
The two talk about the main focus of the docuseries, which was the political pressure to solve this case in order to move past it and keep changing Atlanta’s narrative. This led police and prosecutors to Wayne Williams, who was 23 years old at the time of the last murder and who police said lured the children in by pretending to be a talent agent. He has only been convicted of two of the adult murders though, while police attributed a number of the other murders to him after he his conviction. Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children speaks with many family members and people involved in the case, some who believe Wayne is guilty and some who believe justice was not carried out.
Brittany and Ronald speak with director Sam Pollard about the making of the documentary, from sitting down with mothers and siblings of the victims, to trying to speak with Wayne. He says that his team was confident they would find a smoking gun that would either prove Wayne innocent or guilty, but there was no such discovery. He discusses his filmmaking philosophy and working with Spike Lee on 4 Little Girls, a documentary about the four young girls who were murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. They also have on author and professor Tayari Jones who grew up in Atlanta during the time of the murders. They talk about her fiction book that uses her memories and experiences from that time, Leaving Atlanta, and the lasting impact the unsolved tragedy has had on the city.
The Atlanta Child Murders case was reopened in 2019, which Pollard believes may be due in part to his documentary and another docuseries, The Atlanta Child Murders, that was also released in 2019. Officials are hoping that new technology will help lead to a conviction in these still unsolved murders.
Brittany and Ronald are looking for documentaries that best provide answers about the human condition. On future episodes of “HBO Docs Club,” the two will be watching docuseries about Dee Dee Blanchard and Gypsy Rose, Elizabeth Carmichael’s auto scams of the ’70s, and the Apollo theater. They will also be watching new documentaries that will be released this year.
Be sure to check out this new podcast if you’re on the hunt for documentaries worth the watch!