Brittany Murphy

What Happened, Brittany Murphy?: HBO’s new docuseries is already proving controversial

Posted by for TV

HBO’s What Happened, Brittany Murphy? is yet to get a UK release date, but it’s already making headlines. 

It may have been 12 years since the Clueless star Brittany Murphy died at her home in Los Angeles, but the circumstances surrounding her passing are still making headlines thanks to What Happened, Brittany Murphy?, HBO’s new docu-series about the star’s life and death.

The two-part series – which landed on the platform in the US last week – has already proven to be controversial, despite not yet having a UK release date. Indeed, one review described the show as feeling “less like a monument to Murphy’s life than an exploitation of her death”.  

However, while some viewers agreed that the documentary’s use of YouTube ‘detectives’ and its overtly speculative lens was problematic, others have taken to Twitter to praise the documentary for shining a light on the pressures women in the spotlight face – a subject that’s particularly poignant in light of the ongoing conversation surrounding the treatment of Britney Spears.

For now, then, we’ll just have to wait and see what UK viewers think when the documentary series lands on our shores. Keep reading to check out everything you need to know about the series in the meantime. 

What is What Happened, Brittany Murphy? about? 

Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack
The docuseries also explores the relationship Murphy had with her late husband, Simon Monjack.

According to HBO, What Happened, Brittany Murphy? is an “intimate, in-depth character portrait” of the actor, which goes beyond the headlines to unpick the “mysterious circumstances” surrounding her death on 20 December 2009.

While her death was ruled by a coroner as accidental – an autopsy report after her death listed pneumonia, anaemia and over-the-counter drug intoxication as the cause of her death – her husband’s death of the same causes five months later led many to believe that her sudden death was the result of other, external causes, with some going as far as to claim that Murphy had been poisoned.

What Happened, Brittany Murphy? explores the origin and reasoning behind these rumours, as well as painting a picture of the star’s experiences in Hollywood in the months and years leading up to her death. 

As the official synopsis reads: “Featuring new archival footage and interviews with those closest to her, What Happened, Brittany Murphy? goes beyond the tabloid rumours to examine the impact of Hollywood’s sexism on her struggles, as well as lingering concerns about her relationship with husband Simon Monjack.”

Is there a trailer for What Happened, Brittany Murphy?

There is indeed – you can check it out below: 

When and where will What Happened, Brittany Murphy? be released?

Although there’s currently no news as to when What Happened, Brittany Murphy? will land in the UK, Sky and HBO have a longstanding partnership, so we expect to see the docuseries land on Sky sometime soon. 

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Courtesy of HBO Max (second photo by Anthony Dixon at WENN)

Share this article

Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.