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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

In the aftermath of tragedies, a swarm of conspiracy theories is never far behind. The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was no different. There had been a grace period of perhaps a day or two at most before theorists flocked to the traumatic disappearance like bees to honey. Then, of course, comes the wealth of media that spawn from these conspiracy theories — and Netflix’s new series on MH370 is simply the latest in a long line of irresponsible, sensationalist reporting. MH370: The Plane That Disappeared, released on March 8, is a web of controversial conspiracy theories displayed under the poor illusion of a documentary series.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared goes over, more or less, three main theories as to what happened to the missing plane. The pilot crashed the plane in an act of mass-murder suicide, the plane was hijacked by Russians, or the Americans intercepted the plane due to cargo — namely batteries and other minor electrical components — that could potentially be handed off to the Chinese. The series does feature family members of the missing plane attendees. However, it is primarily spearheaded by their theorists.

This three-episode series might present itself as a quest for the truth, but it’s anything but. Conspiracy theorists arrive at a conclusion long before they have the evidence to back it up and it shows in this series’ patchwork attempts at theorizing. Even though the theorists themselves say they know their theories sound ridiculous, it nonetheless is so outrageous and insensitive that it feels like Netflix takes its audience as a joke. 

To think that anyone would take a presenter seriously after arguing the Russians must have taken hold of the plane because there were three ethnic Russians on board — with absolutely no other evidence, including anything connecting the Russian individuals to the government — is shocking and insensitive to the victims and their families. None of the other theories ever improve in that regard either — each is as strikingly irresponsible and baseless as the last. Netflix may include individuals that critique the theories, but to provide a platform for the conspiracies to begin with, is abhorrent as is.

What is most striking about the series is that it had all the opportunities to make an incredible, heartfelt documentary about the disappearance of MH370 and reinvigorate discussions in an attempt to reopen the search for the plane. The only parts of the series that felt worthwhile were when the family members of the missing people were talking about their experiences. It was heartbreaking to feel their profound grief, especially having yet to find the plane, and inspiring to see them rise up to fight for their loved ones and for a continued search. 

Seeing all of the potential squandered in favor of peddling outlandish conspiracies not only feels disappointing, but outright angering. The families still have no answers about where their loved ones are and no bodies to bury, and their lives are ones of continued grieving for what has been lost. To exploit that tragedy and that grief in the name of sensationalized reporting is nothing short of cruelty. 

If all Netflix wished to do was to peddle conspiracy theories instead of providing a legitimate documentary about the disappearance of MH370 and the aftermath, then MH370: The Plane That Disappeared never should have been made at all — or perhaps rebranded itself as a conspiracy show instead of a documentary. On the whole, it’s an insulting waste of three hours and a heartless exploitation of an immense tragedy that still affects the victims’ families today.

Maida Suta

UC Berkeley '24

Maida is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing a degree in Media Studies with a concentration in Global Cultural Studies. She is currently a senior editor at the UC Berkeley chapter and facilitates the daily success and maintenance of the writing and editor teams. Maida has extensive experience in marketing, journalism, medical writing, and all things editorial. She loves to research social justice and write in-depth movie reviews when she's not in the newsroom. Upon graduation, Maida is eager to apply her varied skill sets in the media, journalism, and communications industry. When she isn't writing and editing, Maida loves to collect a variety of trinkets, host book clubs, or bake and decorate exceptionally pretty cakes.