The Friedmans seem at first to be a typical family. Arnold Friedman
is an award-winning schoolteacher, his wife Elaine, a homemaker. Together, they raise their three boys in the affluent Long Island town of Great Neck. One Thanksgiving, the family is gathered at home preparing for a quiet holiday dinner. In an instant, a police battering ram splinters the front door and officers rush into the house searching every corner, seizing boxes of the family's possessions. Arnold and his 18-year-old son Jesse are both arrested, led away in handcuffs through a maze of newsmen, lights, cameras and trucks assembled in their front yard.
As a convoluted investigation unfolds, father and son are indicted for hundreds of shocking crimes. While the family vehemently declares its innocence, the Great Neck community is in an uproar, and the Friedmans are the target of their rage.
The film follows their story -- from the public's perspective and, most remarkably, through unique footage of the family in crisis, shot contemporaneously by family members inside the Friedman house.
As the police pursue the investigation, and the community reacts, the fabric of the family begins to disintegrate, revealing disturbing questions about justice, community, family, and -- ultimately -- truth.