True crime fans are flocking to Netflix to watch Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, and the newest hit series is another in a long line of amazing shows on the subject of true crime. With the glut of great true crime series available today, some shows slip through the cracks and don’t get the attention they deserve.
From cult calamities like Waco to serial killer madness like Des, even TV’s strongest true crime series get overshadowed by other content. While there may be a ton of underappreciated true crime, only the very best are worth revisiting in 2022.
In Cold Blood (1996)
Stream On Roku TV And Pluto TV
Limited series were not nearly as popular in the ’90s as they are today, but Truman Capote’s classic true crime yarn was practically screaming for a miniseries of its own. In Cold Blood recounts the murder of a respected Midwestern family and the investigation that lead to the capture of the perpetrators.
Though there was a critically acclaimed film in the 1960s, the miniseries format allowed for more of the true story to be told. With a cast of brilliant actors led by Sam Neill, In Cold Blood did an excellent job of capturing the senseless horror that defined the crime and the cultural impact that it had on the U.S.
Stream On Netflix
Though director Errol Morris is most known for creating some of the best documentaries of all time, his miniseries Wormwood was an interesting departure. Following the sudden death of a U.S. agent in the 1950s, a leaked document sheds light on a secret government project with evil intentions.
Tying true crime with conspiracy, the very real death of a man in the ’50s unlocks the door to a giant conspiracy of government corruption and dastardly experiments. Though the show was slower-paced than most true crime series, the twisted story keeps audiences engaged as the plot gets thicker and thicker.
Dirty John (2018-Present)
Stream On Netflix
While most true crime shows needle in on one specific case, Dirty John dedicates each of its seasons to a different story. Told in a seasonal anthology style, the show recounts tales of true crime specifically having to do with love gone wrong.
Generally considered one of the best shows based on a podcast, the subject of the cases lends itself well to an anthology format. As an ongoing show, each season offers fans a chance to get re-engaged in a new tale, and it is one of the few great true crime shows that airs on traditional television as opposed to streaming services.
This Is Personal: The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper (2000)
Stream On Freevee
The most popular true crime shows tend to have a central focus on cases from the United States, but Great Britain has its fair share of amazing true crime programs as well. This is Personal recounts the tense period in Great Britain during the reign of terror of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, and the police officers who worked to catch him.
Police work is the central focus of the story, and the emotional impact of the case is more important than the grisly details. Serial killings have always been a popular topic for true crime, and This is Personal is a fascinating look at how British cops brought down a notorious murderer.
The Serpent (2021)
Stream On Netflix
Netflix usually always produces some of the best true crime shows of the year, and one of their absolute best went by largely unnoticed. The Serpent is the twisted true story of Charles Sobhraj, a con man and murderer who preyed on the growing hippie movement in Asia during the 1970s.
The figure of Sobhraj himself makes a compelling subject for a miniseries, and the depths with which he sinks is compelling and horrific. The actual story was largely unknown to Western audiences, and it is one of the few true crime tales that were new to even the most devoted fan of the genre.
Dr. Death (2021-Present)
Stream On Peacock
Hospitals are frightening places to begin with, but adding an element of true crime makes the show Dr. Death a truly harrowing experience. The story follows two surgeons who team up to stop a fellow surgeon who has begun intentionally maiming and even killing the patients that he operates on.
Medical malpractice is an area of true crime that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but the stories can often be scarier than any axe-wielding murderer. The story is laid out in such a way that the viewer finds themselves invested in the protagonists, and it is a refreshing change of pace from the usual detectives and special agents that make up most true crime.
Stream On AMC Plus
Allowing actor David Tennant to shine in one of his best roles, Des was a portrait of one of Great Britain’s most infamous criminals. After Dennis Nilsen was arrested for murdering a host of victims in his flat, a detective is tasked with interviewing the man and trying to understand why he did what he did.
The limited series is carried by Tennant, and it is his performance that really brings the character to life on screen. The creepy factor is through the roof as the grisly crimes are recounted with an unemotional edge that leaves audiences with nightmares for weeks. Though Nilsen and his crimes aren’t as famous elsewhere in the world., Des certainly helped bring further attention to a dark chapter in the history of the U.K.
Alias Grace (2017)
Stream On Netflix
Based on the book by Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace is a meditation on crime and punishment, and one of the most unusual true-crime shows of all time. In Canada during the 19th century, a psychiatrist struggles with whether a female murderer should be pardoned for her crimes because of insanity.
Free of all the shock and thrills of the chintzier true crime spectacles, Alias Grace asks hard questions about the mind and the position of the law when it comes to mental health issues. As with Atwood’s other works, there is also an exploration of gender issues regarding how it ties in with the crime itself.
Stream On Paramount Plus
The siege at the compound of the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas is one of the most misunderstood crime stories of the ’90s, and the series attempted to set things straight. The program tells the story of the Branch Davidians and the series of events that eventually resulted in the ATF’s botched raid of the cult’s massive compound.
While it wasn’t completely accurate, the series took its time in establishing the players that had a hand in the disaster. Instead of painting one side as heroic and the other as villainous, the show pulls no punching in highlighting the darkness and incompetence that resulted in many deaths. As the event slides further into the past, Waco is the perfect series to remind viewers how much it defined a decade.
Stream On Netflix
For many, true crime is a genre that is hard to watch because it brings very real pain to the surface and highlights reality in an extremely dark way. Unbelievable certainly fits that description and is the story of a young woman charged with lying about being assaulted. Meanwhile, a dedicated pair of detectives try to get to the bottom of the whole story.
In recent years, victims of crimes have begun to be taken more seriously by the public at large and law enforcement in particular. Unbelievable is a daring character portrait of one young woman, but it stands as a symbol for millions of people who also suffered at the hands of a corrupted system. True crime is almost always emotional, but Unbelievable was doubly so.
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