While true crime books have been hugely popular for a long time, it’s really only in the last few years that the genre has become one of the most addictive things to watch on TV. In general, fans of procedural crime and murder case investigation had to make to do with fictional shows such as CSI, or feature-length movie documentaries liked those pioneered by Errol Morris. But the huge success of the Netflix production Making a Murderer in 2016 bridged both worlds. By taking the episodic format of procedural shows and applying it to a fascinating real-life murder case and trial, it created one of the year’s must-see series.
Its popularity inevitably led to a flood of true crime shows on Netflix. It would be a mistake to suggest that the streaming giant invented the true crime series–it obviously didn’t, and some of its best offerings pre-date both Making a Murderer and the service itself. But there’s little doubt that Netflix has become the go-to destination for true crime TV fans, with a wealth of gripping, disturbing, fascinating, and unusual shows hitting over the past couple of years.
While the majority of these shows unsurprisingly focus on violent crime, there’s a variety in the way they approach their subject matter. Some series document investigations and court cases in real time, while others take a more retrospective approach, using the passage of time to explore both the cases and their effects on those involved. There are shows that use a single crime as a springboard to examine a range of issues, and series that reveal some the darkest and weirdest extremes of human behavior. With so much on there, it’s hard to know to where to start, so we’ve chosen 12 of the very best true crime shows currently available on Netflix. Let’s investigate…