Whether it be the early days of soap operas, the sitcom wave of the ‘90s or the reality TV trend of the 2000s, each decade brings the next television craze to sweep the nation. It’s now arguably easier to pinpoint the latest shows audiences are watching with streaming services. Netflix, a time-consuming guilty pleasure, has been the melting pot for a specific subgenre of documentary that is gripping the nation; true crime. They come in all shapes and sizes, and Netflix is chock full of them, adding more frequently to satiate the American public’s hunger for justice. Or, sometimes, lack thereof.
True crime on Netflix ranges from cases about murders to disappearances, sexual assault and more. Each show handles its narrative differently, but follow similar skeletal outlines that can feature recreations of events, long one-on-one interviews, and even rotoscope animation to chronicle the events.
Whatever you’re looking for, Netflix can provide it. Here’s some of the best true crime documentaries you can stream now.
Tower (2016): This documentary utilizes real footage and audio clips combined with various animation techniques to tell the story of the horrific shooting on August 1, 1996 at the University of Texas in Austin. With 16 people shot and killed that day, and dozens of others injured, this haunting tale is masterfully documented and the animation is both powerful and visually pleasing.
The Confession Tapes (2017): All you need is a confession. Then it's case closed. Right? “The Confession Tapes” challenges this notion and will change the way you look at law enforcement. In the first season, watch as the police pull confessions out of suspects in six different murder cases, all with evidence for their innocence. These questionable tactics will have you shaking your head in disbelief while you wonder if the suspect really was guilty.
The Keepers (2017): Join Tom Nugent, a journalist who broke the story of a nun who was murdered in Maryland in 1969 as he reflects on the ordeal. Through expanded interviews with past nuns and girls who attended a girl’s catholic school, this documentary attempts to find the truth about what happened to Sister Cathy. The deeper the story goes, the darker it gets. Abuse, religion, family history and more all play a part in this classic murder mystery that will have viewers at the edge of their seats.
Team Foxcatcher (2016): If you liked 2014’s oscar nominated “Foxcatcher,” definitely look into this documentary. If you’re not familiar with this bizarre story, watch as John du Pont, eccentric athletic enthusiast, invites athletes onto his massive estate to train for wrestling for an Olympic team. What started out as a wholesome dream for greatness deteriorated into a tragic, oddball crime that no one could have seen coming.
American Vandal (2017): A bit of a departure from the rest of the serious documentaries, this satirical take on the true crime genre follows the story of high schooler Dylan Maxwell, played by Jimmy Tatro, as a classmate attempts to exonerate him of a crime that he may not have committed; a costly prank in which someone drew phallic images all over the school faculty’s cars, and Dylan is the prime suspect.