After seven years of being kidnapped and then reunited with your parents, you’d hope the familial story would have a happy ending. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the Stayners. And that is what’s explored in Hulu docuseries, Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story.
The three-episode production is executive produced by Anthony and Joe Russo, aka the Russo Brothers. Joining the infamous behind-the-scenes duo as EPs are Mike Larocca, Todd Makurath, Jen Casey, Nick Gilhool, Peter Rieveschl, Andrew Jacobs, and Alexandra Meistrell.
The documentary was released in April 2022 on the streaming service. But if you haven’t watched it, here’s what you can expect to see. The sad truth is that it’s not a happy ending at all.
What is Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story on Hulu about?
The story starts with Steven Stayner who was kidnapped in 1972 when he was seven years old. Kenneth Parnell abducted him, and the young boy was molested and raped for years. Seven years later when he was 14 years old, Steven was able to escape with another of Parnell’s victims, five-year-old Timothy White.
The two return home, but the constant media attention and difficulty in adapting back into the family and his surroundings are challenges Steven, his parents, and siblings face. And as one brother is thrust into the spotlight due to his heroics in saving Timothy, another grows jealous, per the synopsis. The docuseries explores Steven’s story, Parnell’s trial and how the media coverage took “a dark turn,” how Steven’s older brother Cary becomes a serial killer, and the premature death of Steven in a hit-and-run.
Captive Audience features interviews with Steven’s daughter Ashley Stayner, his son Steven Stayner Jr., director Jessica Dimmock, and court TV reporter Ted Rowlands.
All three episodes of Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story are streaming on Hulu.