Is there any entertainment force more seemingly unstoppable than true crime? Mankind’s most sinister deeds have fascinated audiences for centuries. And in the modern age, the streaming wars and social media feed, accelerate and encourage this fixation at an unprecedented scale and speed. The result is a never-ending cycle of infamous crimes retold via documentary, punctuated by real-time internet clips showing everything from minor brawls in grocery stores to murders by the police.
As the world darkens, many TV and film lovers have turned their attention to this increasingly macabre theme to simultaneously distract themselves from the news and lean into the stark reality of narratives that consider true crimes. From podcasts and documentaries to prestige dramas and genre-defining sitcoms, true crime is everywhere. Learning about the most frequented subject areas—corrupt police, biased legal systems, unreliable evidence, and the like—is a worthwhile endeavor that can help you better navigate our changing society. But sometimes the genre seems so saturated that it’s hard to know where to start.
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To help you wade through the muck of true crime, IndieWire writers show you the best of the best. Looking through the variety of true crime movies and shows you can access right now via HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix, we’ve selected just 26 of the best true crime offerings currently streaming (with plans to come back and give you more to explore at a later time). All of these shows or direct-to-streaming documentaries captured the public’s attention when they debuted; raised serious questions about the nature of crime investigation; and, more importantly, how these surveys are shown to the public.
Our list includes a combination of documentaries and scripted series based on true stories, ranging from the legendary “Unsolved Mysteries” and “The First 58” to recent dramatizations such as “The Girl from Plainville” and “The Staircase.” There is something for everyone, with an emphasis on storytelling first and crime later. The following list is arranged alphabetically.
With editorial contributions by Latifah Muhammad.
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