50 Best True Crime Shows To Stream (December 2022) — UPROXX

The true crime fixation has always been somewhat real for TV viewers, but the obsession grew more real with the rise of the streaming realm. Netflix, Peacock, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Max, and Paramount+ have all joined in with the “fun,” and we’ve done our part to round up the top 50 TV shows and movies from this genre. Lock the doors and draw those blinds before you start watching, though.

1. The Staircase (The O.G.)

Year: 2004-2018
Starring: Michael Peterson
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (14 episodes)
Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Trailer: Watch here

This doesn’t technically qualify as the O.G. true crime series of all time, but one would be hard-pressed to find a more notoriously bingeable classic than Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s The Staircase. The story of Michael Peterson emerged in this simmering series that delved into the part he played in his wife’s 2001 death. Kathleen did, of course, die under mysterious circumstances, and theories still abound that might reveal a cause more extraordinary and downright bizarre. Michael has been already been convicted and released for time served, but followup episodes happened, along with an HBO dramatization that appears further down in this list.

Watch it on Netflix

2. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Year: 2020
Starring: Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswalt
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (7 episodes)
Director: Liz Garbus
Trailer: Watch here

The life and work of the late Michelle McNamara — citizen investigator, blogger, and admitted developer of a “murder habit” — takes center stage in this revelatory series. At the time of her death, Michelle’s husband (Patton Oswalt) decided to do everything possible to complete the book that became the subject of this limited story, which emerges as a “portrait of an artist” who also happened to live for the pursuit of justice. Michelle’s book led to the arrest of her biggest obsession, the Golden State Killer, and this led to closure for the victims (and their families) who suffered for decades after the perpetrator’s 50 rapes and 12 murders. Following Joseph James DeAngelo’s capture, he pled guilty on the day after this series’ debut, and the entire shakedown followed miraculous efforts by McNamara and her post-death collaborators, investigative journalist Billy Jensen and crime writer Paul Haynes. It’s a story of obsession, yes, but one that thankfully led to progress.

Watch it on HBO Max

3. Chernobyl

Year: 2019
Starring: Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Jesse Buckley, Paul Ritter
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (5 episodes)
Director: Johan Renck
Trailer: Watch here

Nuclear crimes are definitely crimes, so this show counts for the list. Showrunner Craig Mazin did the thing here, long after his work on The Hangover franchise, to give us an unflinching look at one of the most devastating man-made disasters in history. Not only that, but this series proved that event TV could still exist on HBO even after Game of Thrones. Through five rollercoaster episodes, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion yielded heroic sacrifices and catastrophic f*ckups and the horrifying, heartbreaking story that one won’t find in the history books. Mazin and director Johan Renck left no detail unturned in their quest for authenticity, and the dynamic duo of Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgård can’t be beat for an all-encompassing portrait of the best and worst that humanity has to offer.

Watch it on HBO Max

4. The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst

Year: 2015
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Trailer: Watch here

In early 2022, Robert Durst died while incarcerated, but it took a hell of an effort to put him behind bars in the first place. During the production of The Jinx, no one knew whether he’d ever pay for his fatal crimes, given that Durst had been repeatedly been accused of murder but never successfully convicted. His luck did eventually run out, but when this series debuted in 2015, this limited series highlighted the wild history of its subject while pointedly noting his long-standing status as a suspect in his wife’s disappearance 40+ years prior. And as it turned out, his ultimate conviction involved Durst killing someone who knew too much about that old crime. This project dives into police files and archival footage just like many other docuseries tend to do, but the end result is wholly unique and hits even harder after his conviction.

Watch it on HBO Max

5. The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Year: 2016
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Sterling K. Brown, David Schwimmer, Nathan Lane, Sarah Paulson, Kenneth Choi, John Travolta, Courtney B. Vance
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV14
Seasons: 1 (10 episodes) of a larger anthology series
Directors: Ryan Murphy, Anthony Hemingway, John Singleton
Trailer: Watch here

The trial of the century transformed into an adapted horror tale through the deft hand of Ryan Murphy, who might (after Dahmer and The Watcher) now be the real godfather of the more exploitative wing of the true crime genre. Cuba Gooding Jr. stealthily stepped into those gloves, and David Schwimmer uttered “Juice” so many times that I nearly forgot about Ross Geller’s own reign of terror. Further, we’ve got another look at how Robert Kardashian not only helped to engineer O.J.’s (temporary) freedom but also how he inadvertently changed the very nature of fame throughout this televised trial (and by extension, through his family following his death). The nostalgia runs heavy here, obviously, because O.J.’s Bronco-bound chase turned out to be one of those moments where you always remember where you were when it popped up on TV. If the TV show fits, you must acquit (?), or something like that.

Watch it on Hulu

6. McMillion$

Year: 2020
Starring: Agent Doug
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Directors: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte
Trailer: Watch here

Agent Doug Matthews, who is vital to the appeal of this miniseries, remains a fantastic character despite being a real-life person. It’s also really something that a popular fast-food Monopoly game became the subject of a decade long, fraudulent ring that inspired one of the most entertaining true crime series in existence. This is a simple story, really, but it’s wild to behold the sheer audacity of all involved. The mob surfaces, yes, and there’s a hefty dose of Florida going on, along with almost unprecedented glee in this retelling of events, and you can’t help but get swept up in the madness. What a fun story that you don’t have to feel even guilty about gawking at while watching. A win-win in a genre that could often (pardon the pun) use a little life.

Watch it on HBO Max

7. Dirty John

Year: 2018
Starring: Connie Britton, Eric Bana, Julia Garner, Jean Smart
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director: Jeffrey Reiner
Trailer: Watch here

This adaptation of a popular podcast (hosted by Christopher Goffard of L.A. Times) brought John Meehan’s psychopathic tendencies into full view through a wild-eyed portrayal by Eric Bana. Likewise, Connie Britton doled out a convincing version of Debra, who was swept up by a charismatic “anesthesiologist,” who seems to be the ideal catch but soon casts an intricate web of con-man tactics. This is a cautionary real-life tale, but it’s also an indictment of a system that allowed a manipulator to flourish. Progressively, John’s backstory disintegrates, and he terrorizes those who challenge him. This show might actually make you feel better about your own dating choices because damn, this John wasn’t simply dirty. He was downright filthy.

Watch it on Netflix

8. Murder On Middle Beach

Year: 2020
Starring: Madison Hamburg
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Madison Hamburg
Trailer: Watch here

This project arrives as an intensely personal one for director Madison Hamburg because it charts his own search for his mother’s killer. If that doesn’t sound harrowing enough, consider that Hamburg felt driven to do so because law enforcement’s trail ran absurdly cold. There’s also a point in the docuseries where he may have interviewed his mother’s killer on camera. And if that still doesn’t intrigue you, consider that Madison put himself into some incredibly risky situations to capture audio footage, and although Barbara Hamburg’s murder remains unsolved to this day, if there’s anyone who can possibly solve this crime, it’s this fearless filmmaker. Quite simply, Hamburg wasn’t afraid to get raw and dangerous in a project that upends the genre.

Watch it on HBO Max

9. Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Year: 2022
Starring: Evan Peters, Niece Nash, Molly Ringwald, Penelope Ann Miller
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (10 episodes)
Directors: Carl Franklin, Clement Virgo, Jennifer Lynch, Gregg Araki, Paris Barclay
Trailer: Watch here

Ryan Murphy and Netflix continue their long-running love affair, even when things get seriously grody as in “cannibalism.” This series not be my cup of tea (because I do like to keep my appetite intact), but the masses quickly racked up over a billion hours of viewing time. Obviously, things got icky with Evan Peters as the infamous cannibalistic serial killer who carried out his shocking crimes from within his Wisconsin apartment. Make sure that you don’t eat too much before settling down to binge this selection, and get ready because Monster will return in anthologized form while focusing upon a different serial killer.

Watch it on Netflix

10. The Case Against Adnan Syed

Year: 2019
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-14
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Amy Berg
Trailer: Watch here

Devotees of the Serial podcast climbed aboard this followup series from Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil, Phoenix Rising), who follows up with exclusive Syed access and new revelations that throw all kinds of legal proceedings into disarray. As listeners already know, Syed served two decades in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999. Various motives from other parties do rear their heads, and no matter how you felt about the podcast’s accounting of events, get ready to relive and reassess them. As a late-breaking update, Syed’s conviction was actually vacated in September 2022, which has prompted an additional episode to go into production. Look for that installment in 2023.

Watch it on HBO Max

11. Wild Wild Country

Year: 2018
Starring: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Directors: Maclain Way, Chapman Way
Trailer: Watch here

Mark and Jay Duplass nailed this limited series that dives into a 1980s Oregon ruckus between ranchers and a cult leader, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Actually, this series revisits the first bioterror attack on U.S. soil, in which over 750 people were poisoned with salmonella, and that’s only the beginning of the madness that transpired. In the end, the show digs into the FBI’s crusade to stop the Rajneeshees and their thousands of followers from causing more mayhem with comparisons to the Jonestown Massacre flying along with incidents of sketching wiretapping. It’s just nuts, man, but the limited series offers a lot of insight into future church-and-state collisions and honestly makes the Heaven’s Gate happenings seem moderate in comparison.

Watch it on Netflix

12. When They See Us

Year: 2019
Starring: Jharrel Jerome, Asante Blackk, Freddy Miyares, Michael Kenneth Williams, Felicity Huffman
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Ava DuVernay
Trailer: Watch here

This unsettling but valuable watch retells the Central Park Five case, in which five teenagers (ranging from ages 14-16) of color were arrested and charged with a host of crimes, including the rape and attempted murder of Trisha Meili, in 1989. All five defendants were convicted, and this series follows the ghastly mechanisms of corruption by police and prosecutors, who not only crushed these young men but also their families. You may not recognize the wrongly accused — Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise — by name, but Ava DuVernay (who created, co-wrote, and directed here) made it her mission to imprint their journeys upon viewers.

Watch it on Netflix

13. Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.

Year: 2022
Starring: Sarma Melngailis
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Chris Smith
Trailer: Watch here

This project charts the fall of celebrity NYC restauranteur Sarma Melngailis, who wasn’t exactly thrilled with this show’s ending, which she called “misleading,” but block out a handful of hours because once you start watching this, you don’t be able to stop. Vegan beefs will abound while viewers will wonder how, exactly, Sarma fell under the spell of shifty Anthony Strangis (who previously operated as “Shane Fox”). Before anyone really knew what was happening, he’d convinced her that dog immortality could exist, and the two had shafted her employees for paychecks and soon began living the fugitive life. Her fall from grace led to hard time at Riker’s Island, and the show explores how it went down under the most bizarre of circumstances.

Watch it on Netflix

14. Under The Banner Of Heaven

Year: 2022
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Gil Birmingham, Daisy Edgar-Jones
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (7 episodes)
Director: David Mackenzie
Trailer: Watch here

If you are still salty by how True Detective‘s second season turned out, then this show will be a treat (and possible retroactive stand-in) for you. Andrew Garfield picks up as a detective who happens to be a devout Latter Day Saints member. A shattering double-murder leads to a husband as suspect, but it soon becomes increasingly likely that there’s much more here than meets the Utahan eyes. The series is based upon Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction bestseller that arrives with A Story of Violent Faith as a subtitle, so things obviously don’t bode well for Daisy Edgar-Jones’ character. Get ready for some swirling conspiracies that haven’t gone over well IRL with the Mormon church.

Watch it on Hulu

15. Unsolved Mysteries (Revival)

Year: 2020-2022
Starring: The ghost of Robert Stack
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 3 (21 episodes)
Trailer: Watch here

Obviously, we’re dealing with a revival here (the original series ran for 14 years and bounced between networks), and this series hasn’t made a huge headline-making splash like other entries on this list, but this is still true-crime bread and butter and impossible to ignore. These quietly-executed episodes stay compelling like the original while inviting audience participation by anyone who has clues on how to solve these crimes. The ghost of former full-time host Robert Stack looms large, and the original creators (Cosgrove/Meurer Productions) teamed up with the Stranger Things production company (21 Laps Entertainment) to bring us a product that feels both fresh and faithful to its predecessor.

Watch it on Netflix

16. Making A Murderer

Year: 2015-2018
Starring: Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 2 (20 episodes)
Director: Laura Ricciardi, Moira Demos
Trailer: Watch here

This series helped to kick off the current avalanche of true-crime streaming content, and for good reason. Viewers relished the chance to offer input while sleuthing their way to new clues on the Teresa Halbach murder. The Steven Avery and Brandon Dassey trials captivated millions upon millions of Netflix users who dove into a rabbit hole over old and new evidence alike, and the genre would never be the same again. As well, this series inspired filmmakers and streaming services to consider and execute several spins on true crime, and we’re seeing the results spread far throughout his list.

Watch it on Netflix

17. Unbelievable

Year: 2019
Starring: Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Director: Lisa Cholodenko, Michael Dinner, Susannah Grant
Trailer: Watch here

A major trigger warning arrives for this series, which feels almost insurgent in its approach and delivers powerhouse performances from Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever. The two former ladies play detectives who uncover ties between sexual assault cases that could actually achieve justice in a world where less than 1% of rapes are followed by felony convictions. Meanwhile, Dever shines a light on how so-called “imperfect victims” fight the ultimate uphill battle to tell their stories while also not-infrequently being treated like criminals themselves. Boy, her character goes through hell while confronted with a massive burden of proof, which ends up being a legal nightmare. Admittedly, this sounds god-awful as viewing material, but it’s a watchable paradigm-shifter of a series.

Watch it on Netflix

18. The Staircase (Dramatization)

Year: 2022
Starring: Colin Firth, Toni Collette, Sophie Turner, Patrick Schwarzenegger
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director: Antonio Campos, Leigh Janiak
Trailer: Watch here

This dramatization of the Michael Peterson story (previously covered in Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s docuseries, which is our #1 pick) had a lot to prove, and it justified its own existence in spades. Colin Firth taught a master class in keeping the audience wondering about his character’s motives, which were seemingly muddled by his contradictory personality traits and his slightest of wavering expressions. Toni Collette went to extreme lengths to reenact speculative theories on how Kathleen could have died, and so much could have gone wrong during the most brutal scenes. However, the HBO series managed to respectfully wrap its hands around her memory while also considering the forensics of Kathleen’s autopsy report. The owl theory also receives its day in the sun, but ultimately, this series does well by treating Kathleen as a person, and a wife and a mother, not a chalkboard drawing in a crime scene.

Watch it on HBO Max

19. Pam & Tommy

Year: 2022
Starring: Lily James, Sebastian Stan, Nick Offerman, Seth Rogen
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Trailer: Watch here

As much fun as this show was — and it was overall a freaking blast — it’s easy to forget that the central crime of this show led to a lot of emotional devastation. Pamela Anderson endured many years of ongoing public humiliation after real intimate moments got captured on tape and stolen and distributed to the masses. Director Craig Gillespie had the unenviable task of balancing the rock-and-roll spirit of this project with showcasing all of the Pamela fallout during this dramatization. And although the subject herself was not onboard with this project, Lily James rightfully earned accolades by going to a dark place to dredge up those feelings as the show also frivolously tossed mullets around like it ain’t no big deal.

Watch it on Hulu

20. Crime Scene: Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel

Year: 2021
Starring: One of the scariest hotels in the universe
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Joe Berlinger
Trailer: Watch here

Joe Berlinger, who’s done everything from directing Zac Efron as Ted Bundy to helming a Metallica documentary, turns the true crime genre upside down with this inaugural season of a series that treats notorious crime locations as characters within their own story. This installment takes a peek behind the soiled curtains of a notorious Los Angeles hotel that’s known as a murder trap. It’s a place where Richard Ramirez once took refuge from his crimes, and it’s where a young woman named Elisa Lam met a mysterious end with plenty of eerie, viral footage that fueled speculation about what really happened to her.

Watch it on Netflix

21. Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children

Year: 2020
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (5 episodes)
Director: Maro Chermayeff, Sam Pollard
Trailer: Watch here

This one’s a necessary exploration of the 1979 to 1981 years in Atlanta, where 30+ African-American children/young adults either went missing or were discovered to have been murdered. Law enforcement swiftly pinned down a suspect and declared the case to be closed, but they moved far too rashly. Dozens of families never received the answers they sought, and racial tensions quickly rose to a boil during a time when the city hoped to become a Southern mecca of commerce and culture. This case’s twisted legacy unfurls at the hands of filmmakers Maro Chermayeff and Sam Pollard.

Watch it on HBO Max

22. Tinder Swindler

Year: 2022
Starring: Simon Leviev
Genre: Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 94 minutes
Director: Felicity Morris
Trailer: Watch here

No true crime list that surfaces post-2020 would be complete without horror stories about Internet dating. Simon Leviev stepped up to fit that nightmarish bill by scamming the hell out of unsuspecting women after initially wining and dining them and then, suddenly, defrauding them while claiming to be in enormous danger (and needing so much money) as a diamond-empire heir. All told, he racked up millions of dollars with only a few years behind bars to pay the price. This documentary is quite a whirl to behold but also heartbreaking in its own way, and Leviev’s victims serve as a cautionary tale to mind that stranger-danger sixth sense.

Watch it on Netflix

23. John Wayne Gacy: Devil In Disguise

Year: 2021
Starring: John Wayne Gacy
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-14
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Director: Rod Blackhurst
Trailer: Watch here

This docuseries is as disturbing as can expect due to subject matter, but more than that, director Rod Blackhurst (Amanda Knox, which is further down this list) made it a mission to also (slightly) drag the true crime genre while exploring a notorious serial killer. As Blackhurst told Indiewire, “I have always struggled with the way that true crime continues to be commodified.” He further made good on his intention to add something other than salaciousness to this project, which culminates after a full decade of work from a pair of independent journalists, Alison True and Tracy Ullman. What emerges is a wide-ranging exploration that, among other goals, exposes flaws in the justice system that led Gacy’s own victims to be sidelined in news coverage. Let’s just say that the end result is haunting in more ways than one.

Watch it on Peacock

24. Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story

Year: 2018
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Directors: Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason
Trailer: Watch here

This essential watch ends up being a portrait of the times that we live in today. The docuseries charts the horrible tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death at the hand of George Zimmerman, and how the subsequent fallout launched a series of ongoing debates about how police responded and how the prosecution struggled against societal forces including race in America. As well, the project charts the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement and points towards much work to be done, including on the issues of gun violence and how much of an uphill battle is still faced by marginalized communities who seek justice with devastating results.

Watch it on Paramount Plus

25. Inventing Anna

Year: 2021
Starring: Julia Garner
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (9 episodes)
Directors: David Frankel, Tom Verica, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, Nzingha Stewart, Ellen Kuras
Trailer: Watch here

A whole lot of grifter-focused series surfaced this year, but Julia Garner raised all the eyebrows as the unusually-accented German-Russian-WTF fake heiress Anna Delvey. The dramatizations are hefty, and at least one of Delvey’s real-life victims sued over how this series portrayed her. In the end, however, Jessica Pressler’s original character study of Delvey receives the confounding adaptation that it deserves. People almost desperately wanted to believe in Delvey’s twisted version of the American Dream, and the rest is gravy-coated fallout.

Watch it on Netflix

26. The Watcher

Year: 2022
Starring: Bobby Cannavale, Naomi Watts, Margo Martindale, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Coolidge
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (7 episodes)
Director: Ryan Murphy, Paris Barclay, Jennifer Lynch, Max Winkler
Trailer: Watch here

This is not an objectively good series. Few people are arguing that point, but Ryan Murphy has (again) pulled together some compelling TV, and you gotta respect that game. Bobby Cannavale does the most as a patriarch who slowly comes undone as a mystery entity terrorizes his family with unsettling letters, and Naomi Watts keeps everyone guessing until the very end. Jennifer Coolidge is typically fantastic as a realtor who damn well should have known to disclose this house’s issues. The show is gloriously full of red herrings while adding flavor to the already mind-boggling investigative report from The Cut, and all of the potential suspects appear to have a delightful time with claiming and ducking responsibility. Despite the potentially triggering subject matter, this still happens to be a playful series with more to come.

Watch it on Netflix

27. Truth And Lies: The Menendez Brothers

Year: 2017
Starring: Eric and Kyle Menendez
Genre: Documentary
Rating: TV-14
Runtime: 81 minutes
Trailer: Watch here

Before there was the O.J. Simpson trial-media circus, Lyle and Erik Menendez were found guilty of killing their parents, Jose and Kitty, in 1989 at the family’s multimillion dollar mansion. In the aftermath, their courtroom faces were emblazoned upon our cultural consciousness. This ABC News special takes a trip back in time to reexamine the duo’s motives, including whether their brutal actions could have been spurred on by mere greed or an all-encompassing fear after a nightmarish childhood. What surfaces doesn’t change the case, but it’s a trip back in time that few die-hard true crime devotees can possibly ignore.

Watch it on Amazon Prime

28. Tiger King

Year: 2020
Starring: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, a bunch of big cats
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 2 (12 episodes)
Directors: Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin
Trailer: Watch here

Obviously, this show is not high art, but it did turn into a sensation during the early days of the pandemic. It also happened to be content that few could resist during a dearth of other fresh options, but the series was entertaining, Big Cat people are in a league of their own in terms of exploitative bad deeds, and the show dives into the world of Joe Exotic, rival Carole Baskin, and a dastardly murder-for-hire scheme that landed the former behind bars in real life. Also, there’s a whole array of odd supporting characters, and some really bad music videos to boot. Yeehaw.

Watch it on Netflix

29. Mindhunter

Year: 2017-2019
Starring:
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 2 (19 episodes)
Directors: David Fincher, Carl Franklin, Andrew Dominik, Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm, Andrew Douglas
Trailer: Watch here

Here’s an example of a guilty pleasure that true crime viewers don’t have to feel even slightly guilty about watching. If you haven’t yet experienced this David Fincher-helmed series, you have an array of (fictionalized) serial killers awaiting you. Damon Herriman picks up Charles Manson (he also portrayed the cult leader for Quentin Tarantino), and takes on Dennis Rader, David Berkowitz, Ed Kemper, Monte Rissell, Richard Speck, Wayne Williams, Jerry Brudos are also up for the sampling.

Watch it on Netflix

30. Dopesick

Year: 2021
Starring: Michael Keaton, Rosario Dawson, Peter Saarsgard
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Directors: Danny Strong, Barry Levinson, Michael Cuesta, Patricia Riggen
Trailer: Watch here

Tough subject comes to light here with Michael Keaton (executive producing) taking on the massive Oxycontin epidemic from the inside out and also (as the star) portraying a doctor who plays his own role in the mess. Big Pharma’s a big bad guy here, and this series is an intense adaptation of Beth Macy’s New York Times bestseller full of heroes and villains and a wide-spanning set of crimes staring down justice. Keaton clearly relishes being able to tackle such complex stories, and it’s a personal story for him, too, given that he lost a nephew to addiction.

Watch it on Hulu

31. The Landscapers

Year: 2021
Starring: David Thewlis, Olivia Colman
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Will Sharpe
Trailer: Watch here

Will Sharpe (yes, the same dude who played pouting, stormy Ethan in The White Lotus) directed this offbeat “love story” about a pair of apparently ordinary Britons who may or may not have something to do with dead bodies found in their back yard. Olivia Colman and David Thewlis star in a story that’s anything but expected when it comes to tone. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but the project’s collective talent (onscreen and off) is immense, and several of the parts end up being worth more than the total sum of where this story goes.

Watch it on HBO Max

32. I Am The Night

Year: 2019
Starring: Chris Pine, India Eisley
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Director: Patti Jenkins, Victoria Mahoney
Trailer: Watch here

Patty Jenkins and Chris Pine re-team again, and this time, no superheroes exist. Pine portrays a journalist with something to prove as he grows involved with the legendary Black Dahlia case. Also working the case would be a suspect’s granddaughter, Fauna Hodel who’s attempting to find the real truth and happened to pen the memoir that serves as the subject matter of this limited series. It’s a disturbing yarn but takes a much different and unexpected turn from all of the Dahlia-inspired Hollywood projects that we’ve seen thus far.

Watch it on Hulu

33. Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story

Year: 2020
Starring: Amanda Peet, Christian Slater
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director: Maggie Kiley, Meera Meno, Kat Candler, Shannon Kohli, Alexandra Cunningham
Trailer: Watch here

This second season of the Dirty John anthology series isn’t as mysterious as the first one, but Amanda Peet delivers a hell of a heartbreaking performance as she descends into the portrait of a discarded physician’s wife on the brink. Betty Broderick isn’t exactly a stable figure, mind you, but this soap-operatic season still manages to deliver some nuance to show how her collapsed marriage (and subsequent breakdown) wasn’t as cut-and-dried as it might seem from the outside.

Watch it on Netflix

34. Candy

Year: 2022
Starring: Jessica Biel, Melanie Lynskey, Timothy Simons
Genre: Derma series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (5 episodes)
Director: Michael Uppendahl, Jennifer Getzinger, Ben Semanoff, Tara Nicole Weyr
Trailer: Watch here

Jessica Biel’s got range for miles while playing a suburban churchgoer, Candy Montgomery, who bludgeoned her next-door neighbor with an ax. Melanie Lynskey also gets to dig into another juicy, acclaimed role (murder victim Betty Gore) in this series, and the show takes several turns that make the audience abandon any black-and-white approach to evaluating motives and exactly what happened here. It’s a hell of a set of performances and one that’s particularly unsettling because of exactly how the Candy and Betty dynamic shapes up and devolves.

Watch it on Hulu

35. The Lady And The Dale

Year: 2021
Starring: Liz Carmichael
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-14
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Nick Cammilleri, Zackary Drucker
Trailer: Watch here

Room 104 duo Mark and Jay Duplass stick with HBO to present the story of Elizabeth Carmichael, who promised the world with a fuel-efficient vehicle that was otherwise unheard of in the 1970s. From there, a mountain of intrigue eventually turned into an avalanche of exposed fraud that took her investors for a merciless ride. Interestingly enough, this series can be viewed as an auto-industry based precursor for what Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes later pulled off (at least for awhile) with blood testing.

Watch it on HBO Max

36. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

Year: 2020
Starring: Jeffrey Epstein
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Director: Lisa Bryant
Trailer: Watch here

James Patterson’s bestseller comes to sordid life while digging into the horrific nitty gritty of how Jeffrey Epstein abused his power and used his wealth to commit a long-standing pattern of sexual abuse. As this series released, his partner in crime, Ghislane Maxwell, faced trial for her own misdeeds, for which a related Netflix docuseries also released. In this initial round, however, survivors tell their stories, partially in an effort to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

Watch it on Netflix

37. Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer

Year: 2019
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (3 episodes)
Trailer: Watch here

The title of this series sounds like an Internet meme gone incredibly wrong, but the real story runs darker. A major trigger warning is in order for instances of animal cruelty and, just like the title indicates, amateur sleuths do team up to take down a maniac. If you’re expecting something as (relatively) light as Tiger King, then you’ll be a little shook, but it’s certainly a different type of true crime series than you’ll find on the rest of the list.

Watch it on Netflix

38. The Act

Year: 2019
Starring: Joey King, Patricia Arquette
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Adam Arkin, Christina Choe, Steven Piet, Hannah Fidell)
Trailer: Watch here

Oh, this was a painful series to witness in several spots (including that dental stuff), but what a set of powerhouse performances from Joey King and Patricia Arquette. The latter portrays Dee Dee Blanchard, who’s all up in the Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy while putting her daughter, Gypsy Rose, through torturous “treatments” for the entirety of her childhood. At a certain point in this inspired-by-real-life story, Gypsy has had enough and puts an end to her own imprisonment with fatal results. All of that was already public knowledge to true-crime watchers, but the value of this production is how it exposes the obsession-fueled nightmare that led Gypsy toward such a drastic path that landed her with a 10-year prison sentence.

Watch it on

39. Friend of the Family

Year: 2022
Starring: Anna Paquin, Jake Lacy, Colin Hanks, Mckenna Grace,
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (9 episodes)
Director(s): Eliza Hittman, Rachel Goldberg, Steven Piet, Jamie Travis, Lauren Wolkstein
Trailer: Watch here

Man, do not tangle with Jake Lacy, who’s in the midst of his villain track following his douche bro portrayal in The White Lotus and his chilling role as Robert Berchtold, who manipulated his way into the good graces of the Broberg family and groomed young Jan. Berchtold actually ended up kidnapping the young girl twice, and this isn’t an easy watch, but it sure as heck shows Lacy’s range and should set him up nicely for a continuing career in TV. Maybe something lighter next time, through?

Watch it on Peacock

40. Amanda Knox

Year: 2016
Starring: Amanda Knox
Genre: Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn
Trailer: Watch here

A simple semester abroad turned into more than a nightmare for Amanda Knox, a college student from Washington whose soccer-based “Foxy Knoxy” nickname came back to haunt her after being accused of murder. Under the Italian justice system, Knox endured two convictions and acquittals for the death of British student Meredith Kercher. The intense media spotlight and rampant public speculation took their toll upon the exonerated Knox, who has since returned to a life of activism. In this docuseries, Knox and her inner circle reveal the true toll that the case took upon her own life.

Watch it on Netflix

41. The Vow

Year: 2021-2022
Starring: Keith Raniere
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 2 (15 episodes)
Director: Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer
Trailer: Watch here

Keith Raniere (referred to by many as a cult leader) now sits behind bars after a 100+ year sentence hopefully ensures that he’ll never see the light of day. This series takes some unsettling peeks behind the curtain of NXIVM, which professed to be a self-help group but ended up being anything but that. In the end, Raniere was convicted on a host of sex trafficking charges and while collar crimes, and this series delves into the emotional and legal fallout for not only the organization but Raniere’s former associates and followers. Especially with Season 2, the show takes an often uncomfortable look at the psychological manipulation happening behind the group’s so-called “secret sex sorority,” and the details are chilling to behold.

Watch it on HBO Max

42. The Thing About Pam

Year: 2022
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Judy Greer
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV14
Seasons: 1 (6 episodes)
Director: Scott Winant
Trailer: Watch here

Renee Zellweger donned a fat suit for this project (going far beyond her Bridget Jones’s Diary days), which only adds more controversy to already scandalous subject matter. The show revolves around fallout from the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria, afflicted by cancer and reportedly chauffeured home by Pam Hupp on the final night that anyone saw Betsy alive. Soon enough, a suspect emerged, but all was not what it seemed. Pam ended up becoming a suspect in the midst of a media circus, and Dateline NBC famously aired multiple episodes on the case. As it turns out, Pam was convicted of murdering Louis Gumpenberger, and now, she’s also awaiting the outcome of charges for Betsy’s death. In other words, there’s a lot happening in this dramatization, and as always, Renee is up for the challenge.

Watch it on Peacock

43. The Dropout

Year: 2022
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews, William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf, Elizabeth Marvel
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director: Michael Showalter
Trailer: Watch here

Amanda Seyfried assumed the voice Elizabeth Holmes, and that was only the beginning of exploring this enigma wrapped in a Steve Jobs-style black turtleneck. Her performance was so thorough, in fact, that Jennifer Lawrence dropped out of a similar project while stating that her predecessor had everything covered. Although the series is oddly paced, the end result is an intriguing look at how (as dubbed by Forbes) “the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire” built a blood-testing empire upon a lie. As we now know, Holmes has been sentenced to over a decade in prison for various degrees of fraud, and this show charts the rise of a monster while posing questions on why, exactly, she got so far with her bad deeds.

Watch it on Hulu

44. Killer Sally

Year: 2022
Starring: Sally McNeil and family
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (3 episodes)
Director: Nanette Burstein
Trailer: Watch here

Hoo boy. This project takes some turns while promising to unveil insight into why bodybuilder Sally McNeil killed her also-bodybuilder husband. In the process, we receive accounts from the couple’s grown children, who provide insight into what they remember from that turbulent time as well as how they view their mother’s legal plight. Sally ended up serving 25 years beyond bars and unsuccessfully attempted to appeal her conviction. Although no all-encompassing questions get answered during the course of this docuseries, the end result of this Valentine’s Day murder illuminates plenty of red flags that, tragically, could have been seen earlier.

Watch it on Netflix

45. Lorena

Year: 2019
Starring: John and Lorena Bobbitt
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: R
Seasons: 1 (4 episodes)
Trailer: Watch here

Back in 1993, the name “Bobbitt” became a national punchline following the infamous, uh, “severing” incident that made headlines around the globe. This show aims to dig into Lorena and John Bobbit’s story to unfurl an abusive relationship that could have spurred on a “snapping” with such visceral consequences. As with the fate of John’s penis, this four-part series feels scattered and disjointed and stretches over four full hours when it probably could have wrapped up with two. Still, Jordan Peele’s duties as executive producer might inspire you to tune in and recall how Geraldo Rivera and Howard Stern responded, and although this docuseries isn’t a true-crime game change, it’s still territory worth examining.

Watch it on Amazon

46. Dr. Death

Year: 2021
Starring: Joshua Jackson, Grace Gummer, AnnaSophia Robb, Christian Slater, and Alec Baldwin
Genre: Drama series
Rating: TV14
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes) and more to come
Directors: Stephen Frears, Maggie Kiley
Trailer: Watch here

Joshua Jackson stars as real life doom-neurologist Dr. Christopher Duntsch, whose terrifying reign of medical terror became the subject of a successful Wondery podcast. All told, dozens of Duntsch’s patients never recovered from their seemingly routine spinal surgeries, and it was up to two fellow surgeons, Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), to sound the alarm. Before all was said and done, prosecutor Michelle Shughart (AnnaSophia Robb) fought like hell to stop Duntsch, and this docuseries takes a lengthy look at the man behind the surgeon’s mask and the tragic circumstances surrounding a system that potentially allowed a predator to flourish.

Watch it on Peacock

47. Fear City: New York Vs. The Mafia

Year: 2020
Starring: Rudy Giuliani and a bunch of mob baddies
Genre: Docuseries
Rating: TV-MA
Seasons: 1 (3 episodes)
Director: Sam Hobkinson
Trailer: Watch here

Now for something completely different. This project takes a flying leap into the world where enemies quickly find themselves swimming with the fishes. This also takes a trip back into when Rudy Giuliani was a relatively well-respected NYC mayor who determined to clean up his town and (as much as possible) rid the boroughs of the Five Families, but of course, the Mafia’s tentacles ran far and wide, even in the 1970s and ’80s and long after the events fictionalized by The Godfather. Here, the FBI goes to great lengths to connect the mob bosses to a high-profile murder, which was the first step in a long line of legal dominoes.

Watch it on Netflix

48. The Girl From Plainville

Year: 2022
Starring: Elle Fanning, Chloë Sevigny, and Colton Ryan
Genre: Drama miniseries
Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Director(s): Lisa Cholodenko, Zetna Fuentes, Pippa Bianco, Liz Hannah, Daniel Minahan
Trailer: Watch here

This limited series set out to do the seemingly impossible: to dramatize an incredibly sensational true-crime story without heading straight into exploitative territory. To those who frequent the Internet, the story’s skeleton will sound familiar enough: Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the so-called “texting-suicide” case that involved the death of her boyfriend, Conrad “Coco” Roy III. The series takes its name and its basis from Jesse Barron’s 2017 Esquire same-named investigative report, which detailed how Carter admitted to instructing the suicidal Roy to “get back in” after he began to be overwhelmed by exhaust fumes from his vehicle. Elle Fanning takes on the tough role of Carter while the show dives into the real-life texts that filled their two-year relationship. It didn’t look great from the get-go and didn’t improve, but the show looks beyond the headlines and the messages themselves to dig into what brought Carter and Roy to that pivotal point and the wreckage that followed.

Watch it on Hulu

49. What Happened, Brittany Murphy

Year: 2021
Starring: Brittany Murphy, Simon Monjack
Genre: Docuseries
Seasons: 1 (2 episodes)
Director: Cynthia Hill
Trailer: Watch here

Several documentary projects have tried to make sense of “what happened” to Clueless and 8 Mile actress Brittany Murphy, who seemed so vivacious but perished under mysterious circumstances at age 32. Not too much later, her husband (Simon Monjack) died from the same combination of pneumonia and mold exposure, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation regarding what transpired. Nor has it stopped the questions that people had regarding their relationship. This 2-part documentary dives deeper than the tabloid drama into a Hollywood system that’s sexist at best. As Murphy fans know, she underwent a pretty prominent “makeover” at one point during her career, and this project takes a nuanced look at her journey to mourn the lost of a true talent.

Watch it on HBO Max

50. Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admission Scandal

Year: 2021
Starring: Matthew Modine
Genre: Drama true crime reenactment
Rating: R
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Chris Smith
Trailer: Watch here

When this scandal first broke, Lori Loughlin’s career came unglued when everyone realized that she’d substantially greased the financial wheels to get her daughter into University of California. As it turns out, this was part of a massive scheme orchestrated by Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty to an array of white collar crimes. This documentary digs past the celerity and into the corrupt ways of the wealthy families who will do anything to insert their kids into elite colleges while less fortunate families continue to struggle as part of the system. Matthew Modine picks up the Singer role while Fyre filmmakers Chris Smith and Jon Karmen bring this mess to the small screen.

Watch it on Netflix


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