Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story to premiere on Hulu

Hulu will begin streaming a documentary called Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story later this month. True crime lovers (and those who are fascinated with how those crimes leave a lasting effect) will be able to stream the doc beginning April 21.

In 1972, a seven-year-old boy named Steven Stayner was kidnapped while walking home from school. Seven years later, Steven walked into a police station with five-year-old Timmy White, a victim of the same man who had kidnapped Steven.

Steven returned home to his family, but life was not exactly a fairytale, and he and his family had trouble adapting to his return and to the media circus their lives had become. His older brother Cary struggled with jealousy, since Steven was getting so much attention. Steven began drinking heavily, and his relationship with his father eventually became estranged.


Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story — This is the story of how a story gets told, and how the media’s magnifying glass impacts the characters caught in the narrative. Siblings Ashley and Steven Stayner Jr. never knew their famous father Steven, the child victim of a shocking California kidnapping, who tragically died in an accident when they were young. In 1972, seven-year-old Steven went to school – and never came home. His mother Kay struggles to keep the media interested in the case, and to hold her family together. Then, after seven years, a miracle: Steven returns. The media can’t get enough of the story and frantically descend on the Stayner home – but this isn’t the Hollywood ending it appears to be. Steven Stayner, shown. (Courtesy of Hulu)

In 1989, NBC broadcast a miniseries about Steven’s kidnapping and escape, titled I Know My First Name is Steven. The miniseries was well-received, and was nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy awards.

The Hulu documentary delves into the aftermath of Steven’s return and of the shocking conclusion of his kidnapper’s trial, as well as the stories of Steven’s children Ashley and Steven, Jr., who were very young when he was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.

The Hulu doc tells how, just when we think the story couldn’t be any more tragic, a member of the Stayner family confessed to a shocking crime.

When two women and two teenagers were murdered in Yosemite, 14-year-old Ashley followed the news coverage for months. Then, one of her own family members confessed to the brutal crime, and the Stayner family was once again besieged by the media.

You can only watch the whole story of the Stayner family on Hulu.

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Are you familiar with the Steven Stayner story? Are you looking forward to watching Captive Audience on Hulu? Let us know what you think in the comments section.