Netflix has been struggling a lot lately and most of their crime documentaries have been nothing more than what you can check out on Wikipedia. Girl in the Picture is a change of pace from the normal multi-part series that Netflix and other streaming services seem to drag out. Keeping at about 100 minutes, this is not some Dateline NBC story either.
The documentary is like an onion. It has multiple layers to it. And the first one begins when a woman with a severe head injury is found lying off the side of the road in Oklahoma City in April 1990. She is taken to the hospital where it’s discovered her name is Tonya Hughes but she’s not allowed any visitors by someone who says he’s her husband. Tonya later dies from her injuries. But when more information is tracked down and someone calls her mother, the woman on the other line says her daughter died about 20 years earlier.
And this begins the story that involves murder, kidnappings, sexual assaults and stolen identities that spanned many decades. Most people knew Tonya as a dancer at a strip club called Passions in Tulsa. But while some people knew her as Tonya, others knew her as Sharon Marshall. And who was the man who claimed to be her husband? Well, people who went to school with Sharon in Forest Park Ga., knew him as Warren Marshall and people thought he was creepy.
The man is actually Franklin Delano Floyd and the documentary weaves a story that is full of a lot of twists and turns. And they’re might be times when you want to throw something at the screen because when you find out that Tonya/Sharon never had a chance, it makes you cringe. The system failed her. I know it’s a cliched saying, but in her case, every thing was against her. She wanted to Georgia Tech, even earning a full scholarship, which isn’t too bad. But she couldn’t attend. She had gotten pregnant and her father wouldn’t let her go, her friends said.
But who can really believe what Tonya/Sharon was saying. The interviews by people who knew her or thought they did are people on the eve of middle age who’ve been living with this for decades. It’s a sad story about a person who had the victim of child abuse and sexual abuse at an early age and then grew up knowing believing it was normal. And Floyd is a total scumbag. In a different era, he would’ve never been allowed anywhere any children.
The sad part was that Tonya/Sharon who is finally revealed to have been born Suzanne Sevakis was abandoned by both her birth parents for lack of a better word. Her biological father was a Vietnam vet struggling with alochol and the horrors of the war. Her mother married Floyd only to find her daughters’ kidnapping legal on a technicality. And like other people, you wonder why the hell she didn’t fight harder to search for her?
That’s a question that’s never really answered. And there’s a lot of questions with no answers? But unlike other Netflix documentaries, it’s not left up in the air. Thankfully, Fllyd is in prison. I’m guessing this documentary is to pique interest in the kidnapping and disappearance of Michael Anthony Hughes, her son, by Floyd. The reason Tonya/Sharon/Suzanne was allowed to be treated terribly for so many years was it was better to turn a blind eye to something that didn’t affect us directly. Thing might be a little different nowadays but they are just the same.
What do you think? Please comment.