The invention of Netflix has become something that most of us can’t live without. With the unbelievable amount of content available for our streaming pleasure, there truly is something for everyone — including true crime aficionados like us.
Although true crime is often seen as a taboo topic especially when it comes to grisly murder cases, there’s no denying our innate sense of curiousity that has us invested in finding out why and how these crimes actually happen. While we can’t say that our interest would turn us into Sherlock Holmes overnight, it certainly widens our knowledge of our society and the human psyche in general.
So, if you fancy yourself a detective-in-training or are just genuinely intrigued by true crime, here are 7 Netflix true crime series that you can binge-watch over any weekend.
1. Real Detective
This gripping documentary series brings to life actual homicide cases (such as the infamous Riverside Killer) as told by the law enforcement officers who had worked the case. Each episode blends present-day interviews with the detective involved, as well as a drama re-enactment to better elaborate the vivid details as described by the detective themselves. Unlike other docu-series that I’ve seen, Real Detective did a great job in capturing the raw emotions of these law enforcers which showed the vulnerable side that we don’t usually associate with people in their profession.
Number of episodes: 16 (across two seasons)
Run time per episode: 43 minutes
You can stream Real Detective here.
2. The Innocent Man
If you’re someone who loves reading non-fiction crime novels, then you would enjoy this six-part docuseries. Based off renowned author John Grisham’s novel of the same name, The Innocent Man dives deeper into two murder cases that happened between 1982 and 1984 in Ada, Oklahoma, and the false confessions that led to the wrongful conviction of four individuals including former minor-league baseball player Ronald Keith Williamson who was charged with the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter. Try to watch this with an open mind because it can get particularly infuriating when you see real live footage of lawmakers defending their actions to wrongfully prosecute Ronald.
Number of episodes: 6
Run time per episode: Between 42 to 52 minutes
You can stream The Innocent Man here.
No grisly murders in this one but buckle up for an enraging dramatisation of the 2008-2011 Washington and Colorado serial rape cases based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning article ‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape’ by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong. Unbelievable recounts the harrowing ordeal that 18-year-old Marie Adler had to endure from the moment she first reported the rape and what happens after when investigators doubted her story and charged her with filing a false police report. Marie is eventually vindicated when a pair of detectives investigating other rapes committed in Colorado links their cases with hers.
Number of episodes: 8
Run time per episode: Between 44 to 59 minutes
You can stream Unbelievable here.
4. When They See Us
Nothing can be scarier than being accused of a crime you didn’t commit because of society’s stereotypical racism. Created and directed by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, When They See Us takes you back to the 1989 Central Park Jogger Case where the lives of five young coloured men (also known as the Central Park Five) were changed forever. The scripted series begins from when the teens were first questioned about the incident in 1989 to their exoneration in 2002, and finally their 2014 settlement with the city of New York. Although it may seem like a heavy subject to be binge-watching, this Emmy Award-Winning series is a significant and relevant reminder of how racial inequality can (and continues to) create a divide within our society.
Number of episodes: 4
Run time per episode: Between 64 to 88 minutes
You can stream When They See Us here.
5. Amanda Knox
As perhaps one of the most sensationalised females back in 2007, the then-young American exchange student Amanda Knox found herself the subject of news headlines around the world when she was convicted for the murder of British exchange student, Meredith Kercher. While everything about her case seemed fairly solid, the documentary delves deeper into the investigation process which suggests a botched investigation with real footage as well as present-day interviews of the people involved, which included Amanda herself and Nick Pisa, the journalist who broke the story. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself re-evaluating your initial opinions about the case, and doubting the media when you’re done with this documentary.
Run time: 1 hour and 32 minutes
You can stream Amanda Knox here.
6. The Staircase
Wanna hear about a case that is truly stranger than fiction? Michael Peterson, an American crime novelist was convicted in 2003 of murdering his second wife Kathleen, who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home. He claimed it was an accidental fall but many believed otherwise. The Staircase follows Michael’s trial and his eventual conviction despite his claim of innocence which included a ridiculous owl theory that suggested a wild owl had attacked his wife, causing her untimely demise.
Number of episodes: 13
Run time per episode: Between 45 to 56 minutes
You can stream The Staircase here.
Based on a true crime book of the same name, Mindhunter follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench from the FBI Behavioural Science Unit who interviews imprisoned serial killers to understand how they think in hopes of applying this knowledge to solve ongoing cases. While the premise of the show is mostly fictional, the names and misdeeds of the serial killers that they interview are not. This is definitely one of my favourite true crime shows because of it’s clever use of characters (i.e. snippets of BTK) and a mind-boggling but cohesive storyline which makes you pay careful attention to how each episode unfolds.
Number of episodes: 19 (across two seasons)
Run time per episode: Between 35 to 75 minutes
You can stream Mindhunter here.