Television trends come and go, but the current obsession for true crime documentaries looks to be sticking around
Whether it is our morbid curiosity getting the better of us, or the fact that sometimes truth beats out fiction every time, criminal investigations seem to be the flavour of the day among TV fans.
There’s a surprising number to choose from, from those capturing the zeitgeist, to lesser known gems. We’ve compiled some of the best to add to your watchlist if you’re after a true crime binge.
Making A Murderer
The current pinnacle of true crime TV, and the show arguably responsible for the genre’s current popularity, Netflix’s Making A Murderer doesn’t need much of an introduction.
It tells the story of Steven Avery, who was convicted of murder having already served nearly two decades for a crime he didn’t commit. The suspicious circumstances will no doubt make you angry, but you will feel like a legal expert by the end of it all.
This 2015 HBO produced miniseries focuses on a number of murders and disappearances connected to suspect Robert Durst, using police evidence, archive and new interviews, and visual re-enactments to tell its story.
The Jinx gained mass exposure when its airing led to a significant development in the case. No spoilers of course, but let’s just say when interviewing for a programme like this, you should make sure your microphone is off before you talk to yourself in the toilet…
This eight-parter debuted back in 2005, returning years later wth a two-part follow-up in 2013.
The Staircase involves the investigation of a complicated murder case, and the defense and prosecution teams who tangle as they try to construct believable narratives out of the available evidence.
Not just an intriguing story. The shows are each expertly crafted, with some simply excellent filmmaking.
O.J.: Made in America
We all saw The People vs OJ Simpson unexpectedly knock it out of the park with its dramatised take on the story of the American Football star’s murder trial, and its surrounding media and political implications.
But this five-part documentary series from American sports giant ESPN aims to give a more factual take on events, not just during O.J.’s tumultuous years within the US justice system, but with his life before and after.
Known as Forensic Files in its native US, Murder Detectives doesn’t focus on one crime case in particular, but instead sheds light on the various scientific techniques used by forensic investigators to solve violent crimes, mysterious disappearances, and even outbreaks of illness.
A condensed, ‘highlights package’ style series was briefly broadcast on Channel 5, but the original ran for over 400 episodes between 1996 – 2011. A good number of them are now available on the FilmRise YouTube channel, with more available to Netflix subscribers.
The Discovery Channel’s first foray into the true crime market has the added intriguing twist of unfolding in real-time, as viewers follow investigators as they try to crack the case of Louisiana’s Eugenie Boisfontaine, who dissappeared in 1997.
Detective Rodie Sanchez comes out of retirement for one last attempt at solving the murder.
Who the &!*$
This American documentary series tells the story of those who were deceived by people they never knew had such dark secrets…
It’s not necessarily always quite as hard-hitting as those shows that focus on murders and abductions, (Who the &!8$ looks more at spouses, friends and co-workers who involve themselves with cheaters, liars, and thieves with no clue), and the title should give you some idea of the more tongue-in-cheek nature of the show. But it’s still an intriguing crime series.
If you like your murder mysteries with a healthy serving of romantically charged subplots, then look no further than Wicked Attraction, which looks at murderous couples and the motivation behind their heinous acts.
Each hour-long episode looks at a different case, so there should be plenty to keep your morbidly curious brain whirring.
Unsolved is BBC Three’s online-only stab at the true crime genre, and for the most part it hits all the right notes.
Episodes are presented in perfectly bite-sized, 15-minute chunks, meaning you can watch it on your lunch break, or binge the whole thing at home. And the case of Damien Nettles, who vanished on the Isle of Wight in 1996, is a compelling one.