Defending Jacob (miniseries)

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Defending Jacob
Defending Jacob Title Screen.jpg
GenreCrime drama
Created byMark Bomback
Based onDefending Jacob
by William Landay
Written byMark Bomback
Directed byMorten Tyldum
Theme music composerOlafur Arnalds
Composer(s)Atli Örvarsson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes8
Executive producer(s)
  • Mark Bomback
  • Chris Evans
  • Morten Tyldum
  • Rosalie Swedlin
  • Adam Shulman
CinematographyJonathan Freeman
Running time45–53 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorApple Inc.
Original networkApple TV+
Original releaseApril 24, 2020 (2020-04-24) –
External links

Defending Jacob is an American crime drama web television miniseries, based on the novel of the same name by William Landay, produced by Apple TV+. The series was created and written by Mark Bomback and directed by Morten Tyldum. It stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell, Cherry Jones, Pablo Schreiber, Betty Gabriel, Sakina Jaffrey and J.K. Simmons. It premiered on April 24, 2020.[1] The final episode airs on Friday, May 29, 2020.


Defending Jacob tells the story of a family dealing with the accusation that their 14-year-old son may be a murderer.[2]




  • J. K. Simmons as Billy Barber
  • Christopher Buckner as young Billy Barber (flashbacks)
  • Lizzie Short as Marianne Barber (flashbacks)
  • Evan Risser as young Andy Barber (flashbacks)
  • William Xifaras as Father O’Leary


No.TitleDirected byTeleplay byOriginal release date [3]
1"Pilot"Morten TyldumMark BombackApril 24, 2020 (2020-04-24)
Andy Barber is a respected assistant district attorney in Newton, Massachusetts, who lives a content, suburban life with his wife Laurie and their 14-year old son Jacob. Andy is assigned to prosecute the murder of Ben Rifkin, a classmate of Jacob's, who is found stabbed to death in the park near their middle school. Andy and Detective Paula Duffy question students at the school, but are unable to discern a motive for the murder. While questioning Jacob privately about Ben, Jacob tells Andy and Laurie that Ben was unlikable and later expresses frustration to Andy over the exaggerated false sympathy from his classmates over Ben's death. Duffy discovers a possible suspect, Leonard Patz, a convicted sexual predator, but Andy is advised against bringing him in until they find solid evidence. That night, Andy discovers an online message board memorializing Ben and becomes disturbed after reading a series of comments, including one from Jacob's friend Derek, accusing Jacob of murdering Ben. Andy searches Jacob's room and finds a knife fitting the description of the murder weapon hidden in his drawer.
2"Everything Is Cool"Morten TyldumMark BombackApril 24, 2020 (2020-04-24)
Andy and Laurie confront Jacob about the knife and message board. Jacob insists he never used the knife and that the comments are meaningless. Andy disposes of the knife in a neighbor's trash. The police bring in Leonard Patz for questioning, but are unable to implicate him in the murder and he is released. At the DA's office, Lynn tells Andy that the lone fingerprint they picked up from Ben's body belongs to Jacob and that Jacob has become the prime suspect in the case. Andy is informed that he has been removed from the case and is upset when he learns that Neal has been assigned to prosecute in his place. The police obtain a search warrant and Andy and Laurie wait outside their home while it is searched. On the way home from school, Jacob sees police outside the house and panicked, runs away. He is eventually found at a playground and is picked up by a police officer. He insists that he is innocent, but reveals that he found Ben's body the morning of his death and didn't tell anyone as he was afraid he would get blamed for it. Andy and Laurie learn that Jacob will be held overnight in jail before his arraignment the following morning. At a diner, Leonard Patz looks through his photo album on his phone, filled with photos of Ben Rifkin, before deleting them.
3"Poker Faces"Morten TyldumMark BombackApril 24, 2020 (2020-04-24)
Andy and Laurie hire Joanna Klein, a friend of Andy's and an experienced lawyer, to represent Jacob, and Jacob is allowed to go home on bail. Andy and Laurie restrict Jacob from accessing social media to keep him away from the media's coverage of the case. Andy is haunted by flashbacks of his childhood and reveals to Laurie that his father, whom he had told everyone abandoned his family when he was a baby, is a convicted murderer. Laurie begins to crack under the weight of the case: she is sent home on temporary leave from her job as director of a children's home, their garage is vandalized, and her best friend cuts off contact with her. Andy, insistent that Leonard Patz is the true suspect, convinces Duffy to send him Patz's file. Joanna sends Laurie and Andy to Dr. Vogel, a psychiatrist specializing in genetic behavior, to prepare them for the chance the prosecution may use the "murder gene" as an argument. While Andy remembers Jacob as a normally behaved child, Laurie recalls that Jacob was difficult and often aggressive; Andy is upset that Laurie would imply Jacob is capable of violence, but Laurie insists she does not doubt Jacob's innocence. Sarah calls Duffy and tells her that she has information on Ben's murder.
4"Damage Control"Morten TyldumMark BombackApril 30, 2020 (2020-04-30)
Andy, Laurie, and Jacob begin working with Joanna to formulate the defense's strategy, but Joanna is quick to poke holes in Jacob's story and warns Andy that they must clarify the facts of the case before the trial. Andy, determined to prove his son's innocence, visits the home of a teenager, Matt, who accused Leonard Patz of groping him in a public library. Andy attempts to question Matt but the visit turns confrontational and Matt's defensive behavior leads Andy to believe he's hiding something. Later, Andy follows Patz to his apartment and takes note of his address. At home, Andy is pleased to find Sarah visiting Jacob; later that night, Jacob tells him that Sarah believes Derek killed Ben. Privately, Jacob creates a secret Instagram account despite his parents' rules banning him from social media. Meanwhile, Laurie is becoming increasingly destabilized, stalking her former coworkers and lying to Andy about going to dinner with a friend while she eats at a diner alone. At the diner, she is approached by a friendly woman whom she confides in; when the woman reveals herself to be a reporter for The Boston Globe, she leaves in a panic and does not tell Andy about the incident. Dr. Vogel conducts multiple tests to determine any psychopathic tendencies in Jacob and takes a DNA sample from Andy. Dr. Vogel reveals that they also need a DNA sample from Andy's father, but that he will only provide a sample if Andy obtains it himself. Andy, despite his anger and fear of his father, agrees.
5"Visitors"Morten TyldumMark BombackMay 8, 2020 (2020-05-08)
6"Wishful Thinking"Morten TyldumMark BombackMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
7"Job"Morten TyldumMark BombackMay 22, 2020 (2020-05-22)
8"After"Morten TyldumMark BombackMay 29, 2020 (2020-05-29)



On September 20, 2018, it was announced that Apple had given a straight-to-series order consisting of eight episodes to a television miniseries adaptation of William Landay's 2012 novel Defending Jacob. The series was created by Mark Bomback who also wrote the series and executive produced alongside Chris Evans, Morten Tyldum, Rosalie Swedlin, and Adam Shulman. Tyldum also directed the series as well. Production companies involved with the series consist of Paramount Television and Anonymous Content.[2][4]


Alongside the series order announcement, it was confirmed that Chris Evans had been cast in the series' lead role.[2][4] In March 2019, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell joined the cast of the series.[5] In April 2019, Cherry Jones, Pablo Schreiber, Betty Gabriel and Sakina Jaffrey joined the cast of the series.[6] J. K. Simmons was revealed as part of the cast in a March 2020 trailer.[7]


Filming was confirmed to commence in Newton, Massachusetts––the city in which the novel takes place––in April 2019. Three locations have been confirmed for filming thus far: Cold Spring Park, the village of Newton Highlands, and the UMass Amherst Mount Ida Campus. Additional filming has begun in Belmont, Massachusetts. Filming also began in Salem, Massachusetts, on June 15, 2019, as well as at MCI Cedar Junction in Walpole, Massachusetts, on June 17, 2019, and in Lowell, Massachusetts, by the UMass Lowell Tsongas Arena on June 19, 2019. Filming took place at River's Edge in Medford, Massachusetts, on June 21, 2019. Filming also commenced on June 28, 2019, in Worcester, Massachusetts,[8][9] and on July 8, 2019, in Watertown, Massachusetts, where the facade of the old Watertown Police Station will appear as the Newton Police Station in the series. Filming took place on July 9, 2019 at the Town Diner in Watertown. On July 18, 2019, they filmed at C&M Pizza in Leominster, Massachusetts. Neighborhood scenes were filmed in Needham, Massachusetts.


On Rotten Tomatoes, the series' approval rating is 70% based on reviews from 54 critics. The website's critical consensus is, "Despite outstanding work from Michelle Dockery and Chris Evans, Defending Jacob stretches its source material too thin, undermining its own rich tension with too much melodramatic padding."[10]

On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100 based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[11] The series has reportedly become the second most popular Apple TV+ show.[12]


  1. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (January 19, 2020). "Apple TV Plus Announces Premiere Dates for Steven Spielberg's 'Amazing Stories,' 'Defending Jacob,' More". Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Andreeva, Nellie (September 20, 2018). "Chris Evans To Star In 'Defending Jacob' Apple Limited Series From Mark Bomback & Morten Tyldum". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  3. ^ "Defending Jacob – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Goldberg, Lesley (September 20, 2018). "Chris Evans to Star in Apple Crime Drama 'Defending Jacob'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Otterson, Joe (March 20, 2019). "Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell Join Chris Evans in Apple Series 'Defending Jacob'". Variety. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Petski, Denise (April 5, 2019). "'Defending Jacob': Cherry Jones, Pablo Schreiber, Betty Gabriel & Sakina Jaffrey Round Out Series Regular Cast Of Apple Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "'Defending Jacob' First Trailer: Apple TV+ Unveils Chris Evans' New Legal Series". IndieWire. March 25, 2020.
  8. ^ DeFeudis, Nicole (June 20, 2019). "Actor Chris Evans films in Lowell for upcoming series". Lowell Sun. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  9. ^ Fisher, Jenna (March 21, 2019). "Newton Picked For Apple TV Series Starring Chris Evans". Patch Media. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  10. ^ "Defending Jacob: Miniseries". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  11. ^ "Defending Jacob". Metacritic. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 7, 2020). "'Defending Jacob' Is Shaping Up As An Apple TV+ Breakout As Some Viewership Data Emerges". Deadline. Retrieved May 9, 2020.

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