The true crime genre has grown to become quite a force in the entertainment industry over the past 10 years, and significantly skyrocketing over the last five. From podcasts, documentaries, YouTube channels, books, and TV shows, we never have to look far for more of those insane stories that we crave. Psychologist Meg Aroll may have explained our obsession best, saying “True crime stories allow us to explore the darker side of nature in a safe way.” We appreciate a close look, but not too close.

With everyone looking at their televisions more in the last year than ever before, streaming services have really upped the ante with some of the wildest documentaries to date. But where to begin and on what platform? We’ve narrowed down the top picks that you just can’t miss.

 

American Murder: The Family Next Door

Regarded as the most hated man in America for a while, this film takes a closer look at the conviction of Chris Watts in the murders of his pregnant wife and two young daughters. Spending the rest of his life in prison after confessing to the killings, we see the trial and all the haunting details that lead up to it – including text messages, home videos, and social media posts.

Where to watch: Netflix

 

 

Trial by Media

This is a bit meta – a documentary broadcasting the harrowing ways certain cases have been presented in the media over the years. The film looks at six of the craziest trials in history and how the press decided to relay the information to the masses, in turn adding fuel to the public’s fire. Many still wonder if the media may have impacted the verdict in some of these cases, including The Jenny Jones Show murder and the 1984 subway vigilante.

Where to watch: Netflix

 

Don’t F**K with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

It is the golden era of internet sleuths. We are in a world now where you don’t necessarily have to be on the scene in order to aid in solving a crime. This is all too true for this group of amateur sleuths – after stumbling upon online videos of a man torturing animals and launching a manhunt to find him. Throughout the investigation, the tangled web of the internet leads them to discover this man may be responsible for one of Canada’s most infamous murders.

Where to watch: Netflix

 

Long Shot

Some true crime enthusiasts, like myself, have developed a real fear of being convicted of a crime we didn’t commit. In 2003, Juan Catalan lived this nightmare after being arrested for the Los Angeles murder of Martha Puebla. Catalan and his family pleaded that he could not have committed the crime because he was at a Dodgers game at the time. Without the tickets still in possession to help prove his innocence, all hope seemed lost for Catalan. But as the battle unfolds, Catalan remembers that something was being filmed at the baseball game that day. Could an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm save this man’s life?

Where to watch: Netflix

 

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

This has been another popular case amongst web sleuths since 2013, when authorities released creepy surveillance footage of the last moments a young woman was seen alive in the Cecil Hotel. Elisa Lam was a student from Canada and was on a solo trip to California, starting in San Diego and subsequently vanishing in Los Angeles.  Almost three weeks after her disappearance, her body is found in a water tank on the hotel’s roof; but who and what lead to this terrible tragedy?

Where to watch: Netflix

 

Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer

Even if you think you have the toughest skin, this docuseries will make you squirm. Serial killers usually don’t have a strong effect on me, I hate them all equally. But the Night Stalker was extra disturbing because he didn’t have an M.O. like every other serial killer – he killed whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and no one was safe. The city of Los Angeles lived in terror during the sweltering hot summer of ‘85 until Richard Ramirez was captured and charged with 13 counts of murder. Even behind bars, Ramirez continued to enjoy the media circus and woo women from around the world.

Where to watch: Netflix

 

Three Identical Strangers

Less true crime and more an incredible story with radical repercussions, this doc follows three identical triplets who were separated at birth.  After discovering each other by chance at the age of 19, they lived in the limelight for many years before discovering the unbelievable conspiracy behind their initial adoptions.

Where to watch: Hulu

 

 

 

I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter

This documentary follows the tragic story of Michelle Carter, charged with involuntary manslaughter after encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide over text messages. The film is a deep dive into the realm of young relationships and mental health in the age of social technology.  

Where to watch: HBO Max, Hulu

 

 

The Jinx: The life and Deaths of Robert Durst

‘Four decades, three murders, and one very rich suspect.’ This docuseries is a few years old, but still a fan favorite for the amount of information that is revealed. The show follows real estate heir Robert Durst and the unsolved disappearance of his wife in 1982 – followed by the murder of his friend in 2000 and the dismemberment of his neighbor in 2001. So, either Durst is the unluckiest man alive to be surrounded by such horror, or he knows something that we don’t. The series was created by Andrew Jarecki, who directed the fictional version in his movie All Good Things, featuring Ryan Gosling as Durst. Durst liked the film so much that he reached out to Jarecki personally and offered to be interviewed for more than 20 hours over several years, despite never cooperating with journalists before. Make it to the last episode to see if he deeply regrets that decision.

Where to watch: HBO Max, Hulu

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