There’s never been a better time to watch true crime on Netflix. The streaming platform has a lock on some of the best true crime documentaries, movies, and TV shows. If you love watching stories about criminals and the people who catch them, then it's time to get excited, because Netflix has your back. True crime stories are designed to tickle the detective in your brain, especially when they're smart, well-produced, and pack a dramatic punch. From groundbreaking documentaries to thrilling mysteries that leave you scratching your head, the greatest true crime series on Netflix often seem stranger than fiction.
Mindhunter follows special agent Jonathon Ford as he creates a behavioral science program to help the FBI catch serial killers. Ford speaks with fictional versions of murderers like Ed Kemper and Jerry Brudos, and explores what goes on in killers' minds. Mindhunter has received heavy praise for its visual aesthetic — the first episode is directed by David Fincher (Fight Club), who also produced the rest of the series — as well as its measured portrayal of its serial killer cast.
The Staircase tells the true story of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist who was accused of killing his wife after her body was found at the bottom of a staircase in their home. Peterson's story takes twists and turns that feel implausibly unrealistic, but the case is all too real.
The series is directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and follows both Peterson's trial and the ways in which his life changed after he was accused of murder. The docuseries was one of Robert DeNiro's personal picks for the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, as he said:
I saw some of these earlier episodes and thought they were great. The father seems like a nice guy. But with the whole thing, you just want to know what happened.
Amanda Knox premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and chronicles the murder investigation of Meredith Kercher, as well as the story of how Knox was incarcerated for four years in Italy. In a series of interviews, Knox gives an incredibly detailed account of her time in prison, and in the media spotlight.
The documentary manages to compress a decade's worth of story into a tight package that captures the awful treatment Knox endured during her trial. By allowing Knox and her prosecutor to tell their stories without editorializing, the audience is free to form their own opinion about what really happened.
Almost everyone alive in 1994 remembers where they were when OJ Simpson led the LAPD on a wild car chase through Los Angeles. The People V. OJ Simpson provides a fictionalized look into the lives of those involved in one of the most sensationalized murder cases in history, from OJ himself, to the brewing sexual tension between prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden.
When the mini-series released in 2016, it received accolades across the board, as viewers were bowled over by the stellar portrayal of Marica Clark by Sarah Paulson, a veteran character actor who's held down parts in everything from American Horror Story to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Even the real Marcia Clark said, “Has [Paulson] ever been anything less than brilliant?”
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