Netflix has several new true crime documentaries out now and in the works, such as Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and The Innocent Man, and viewers are already entranced. But if you're just getting into the genre or are looking for something just as fascinating, you'll want to check out these six true crime series on Netflix.
The true crime genre is one of the most popular in American media right now, according to The Guardian. Whether books, TV, or movies we just can’t seem to get enough of humanity’s worst kinds of behavior. Ever since 20/20 and 48 Hours joined the television schedule in the 1970s and 80s — well, even before that with the nightly news — we’ve hung on every detail of investigations, debated whodunits around water coolers and followed court details like our own lives were in the balance.
Perhaps that’s the power of the true crime thriller: We all know these crimes can happen to, and sometimes be committed by, nearly any one of us, and that leaves us feeling both horrified and intrigued. As long as we’re going home safe and sound to our own bed, that is.
With that said, here are a few of the best of the best true crime stories available to stream on Netflix. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, but be warned that details are ahead.
The Innocent Man (2018)
This latest series is called The Innocent Man and is based on a book written by John Grisham, according to Vice. It follows the story of two men accused and convicted of the rape and murder of a waitress in Ada, Oklahoma in 1982.
In the trailer, Grisham says, “If I wrote The Innocent Man as a novel folks probably wouldn’t believe it,” which should tell you something about how awful the circumstances were. But the story isn’t about the crime, so much, as about the confessions, which were later proven to have been coerced, as Vice reported.
The docu-series is up on Netflix now.
Wild, Wild Country (2018)
Wild, Wild Country is a departure from the standard small-town abduction and murder story that so many crime series seem to adhere to. This tale is one almost too wild to be believed, centered on a commune in Antelope, Oregon in the early 1980s.
The Rajneeshees moved to the community looking to build a simpler way of life, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Instead, they infiltrated Antelope’s way of life and took over the city government, which angered it largely rural and conservative population. The result was nothing short of a full-scale war that tore the town and the commune apart.
Evil Genius (2018)
It all started with a bank robbery. That crime was quickly solved when the police caught and arrested the robber, which seemed like an open and shut case — until the man literally exploded in front of their eyes. Suddenly this was a hunt for a mastermind who had held the poor man hostage with a bomb around his neck, forcing him to commit the crime.
The series is just four episodes but, as TIME pointed out, it is riveting, and best of all, there’s resolution at the end.
The Keepers (2017)
The murder of a beloved nun in 1969 set into motion an investigation that was driven by pure passion. Though the murder of Sister Cathy is starting point of the documentary, it’s really the story of alleged abuse by a Catholic priest she was thought to be ready to reveal that is the driving force, according to The Guardian.
Filmmaker Ryan White said when he realized the scope of the story he’d begun to tell it became frightening. “I’ll say it, I was afraid,” White told The Guardian, adding:
I was afraid many times during filming. I was probably afraid through the entire filming. You always had the sense that we were rooting around in something people didn’t want us rooting around in. It was definitely the most uncomfortable I’ve been in my film-making career.
Becoming a hostage is a fear something none of us really like to think about, but the producers of Captive do just that, digging into the stories of hostage situations around the world and the negotiations that work to diffuse the horror, according to Netflix.
“Freedom is precious. We take it for granted,” you hear in the trailer.
The Staircase (2018)
When novelist Michael Peterson’s wife fell down the stairs and died it, seemed like an open and shut case. Until forensic evidence seemed to indicate something far more sinister.
The Staircase is a comprehensive look at the case and the trial with extensive interview footage with Peterson and his family. Filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade worked on the series for 15 years, first debuting eight episodes in 2003, according to TIME. He added another two episodes in 2013 when Peterson was released from prison in advance of a retrial.