Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini (2024) Docuseries Review – A Real Life ‘Gone Girl’

A Real Life ‘Gone Girl’

The 2014 movie Gone Girl, based on the book of the same name, tells the story of a man named Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who reports the disappearance of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) to police. In the media frenzy that follows, there are suspicions of foul play, with a finger pointed firmly at Nick who is suspected of being behind Amy’s disappearance. 

Did Nick kill his wife? Well, we aren’t going to reveal the plot twist in this article, just in case you haven’t yet seen the movie. 

Hulu’s new documentary, “Perfect Wife” tells the story of Keith and Sherri Pappini, a Northern California couple, who seemingly had the perfect life. While this true crime case doesn’t play out exactly like Gone Girl, there are still similarities between that film (and novel) to the real-life happenings that are chronicled in this doc.

On November 2, 2016, Sherri disappeared while out on a run. When Keith was alerted to her disappearance, he contacted the police to inform them that she had gone missing. 

At the time, there were suspicions that Keith may have had something to hide. Could he have killed Sherri? Such incidents have happened before, with husbands covering up the murder of their wives and sometimes their children too. One example is highlighted in the Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door, which told the story of 38-year-old Shanann Watts who, with her two children, disappeared and then was later found murdered. 

However, any accusations of murder against Keith were quickly silenced when Sherri turned up on Thanksgiving Day, 22 days after she had been reported missing. When she was found on the side of a road with severe injuries to her body and a chain around her waist, she claimed to have been kidnapped by two Hispanic women who later let her go. While being held prisoner, she claimed to have been tortured by the pair. However, the truth about her disappearance was something far different.

Hulu’s three-part docuseries delves into this case, opening with Sherri’s disappearance and the subsequent media circus that followed. As the series continues, we learn more about her unexpected return and the stories she told about her apparent abduction. Then, as the documentary approaches its conclusion, the truth about this North Californian woman is revealed. The reality of what happened to her might surprise you!

The documentary is largely a good one, drip-feeding us information about the ‘kidnapping’ and the investigation that followed in the days (and years) following her return home. We are also given insight into Sherri’s background via interviews with her family and friends and hear about her troubled childhood and volatile behaviour. Worryingly, we also learn of her racism towards the Hispanic community. 

Unfortunately, Sherri didn’t respond to the filmmakers’ requests for her to appear in the documentary, so we don’t hear her side of the story. This makes it rather one-sided, although it’s fair to say that Sherri wouldn’t have garnered a lot of sympathy from viewers anyway. 

We do hear from Keith and the emotional turmoil he went through during the days she was missing and the weeks and months after her return. We also hear from investigators on the case and how they finally uncovered the truth behind Sherri’s disappearance. 

“Perfect Wife” is a tale of love and lies, with a good balance of human drama and investigative police work. The series isn’t unlike what we have seen from true crime docs before, with its mix of archival news clips, police interview footage, and fresh interviews with some of those involved in the case.

However, it’s still a gripping watch, especially for anybody not familiar with Sherri Papini’s story. If you fall into that category, your jaw will likely drop when you hear the truth about this real-life ‘gone girl.’


Read More: Where is Sherri Papini now?

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  • Verdict - 7/10

1 thought on “Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini (2024) Docuseries Review – A Real Life ‘Gone Girl’”

  1. Just watched the whole story. I was expecting the woman to be found dead. My husband thought it was the husband. Then we were thrilled when she was found alive! Then I thought omg she was taken by a sex cult because of the branding. As the story went on about her past it made more and more sense. Her husband was finding things in her background, from her past on her phone..
    She was not the sweet,cute Mom that she made everyone believe. She turned out to be a manipulator who hurt so many people and made up a fake story of being kidnapped.
    My heart went out to Nick and the kids. Never should she ever see those kids again.
    Nick never deserved this- those kids never deserved that. What twists and turns. Very sick lady.

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