North Texas Daily

Top crime documentaries and docuseries to stream

Top crime documentaries and docuseries to stream

Top crime documentaries and docuseries to stream
April 17
12:00 2020

Sometimes reality can be more engrossing than the most intricate works of fiction, and true crime is one of the best examples — how can real-life people commit the most heinous, inconceivable acts?

If you’re looking for some gripping nonfiction viewing that will shake you to your core, these are some of the most well-made documentaries and docuseries in the true crime sphere. In all honesty, all but one of these are docuseries, simply because I find the runtime of a documentary insufficient in exploring some of the world’s most complex stories. Even though these series require a larger time commitment than your 90-minute doc, the engaging storytelling and poignant interviews make them well worth your time.

“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” (Netflix)

If you haven’t checked out my review for this yet, you can do so here. “Tiger King” is a captivating yet absurd story about how one man’s ego lead to paranoia, plots and lies, making the animal world more about the people than the well-being of the creatures. It’s seven episodes of sheer chaos, in the best possible way.

“The Keepers” (Netflix)

This is probably my favorite docuseries of all time. A nun is mysteriously murdered after she found out the head of her Catholic school had been sexually abusing several girls. This series is expertly lensed and contains harrowing testimonies from the victims who still don’t know what happened to the nun they confided in. Thoroughly investigated and full of incriminating evidence, this series offers a chilling look at the Catholic church.

“The Devil Next Door” (Netflix)

This series, along with “Surviving R. Kelly,” is probably the hardest to watch. In 1986, a Ukranian-American is tried in Israel for being Ivan the Terrible, a prolific Nazi concentration camp killer. Watching some of the surviving Jews break down as they give their testimonies in the courtroom is a gut punch, but such a necessary watch. This series is one of the more philosophically perplexing because of its moral dilemma — is it more just for the court to convict a potentially innocent man to death, or to let a potential killer run free and not deliver justice to the Jewish population?

“The Case Against Adnan Syed” (HBO)

I firmly believe you need to listen to series one of the “Serial” podcast before watching the docuseries inspired by it, but this is still a great watch regardless. “The Case Against Adnan Syed” follows the aftermath of a 1999 case in which a 17-year-old Muslim was convicted and sentenced for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. It’s a devastating tale for all parties involved and a case built on flimsy and conflicting evidence. The series brings into question race, religion and the thoroughness of the Baltimore Police Department in this 35-year quest for justice.

“Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” (HBO)

Only two episodes of this five-part series have aired, and yet “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered” has already made the list of essential documentary television. Between 1979 and 1981, over 30 African-American children disappeared, and only two of the murders resulted in prosecution. This docuseries follows the families’ search for justice 40 years later, after the police department initially failed them and their children. Theirs is a tragic story of loss and grief but brilliantly portrayed in what’s aired so far.

“Surviving R. Kelly” (Netflix)

As the latter of the two most intense series listed, this doc definitely needs a trigger warning for abuse survivors. The incomprehensible crimes of R. Kelly, which were protected by his fame, are finally dissected in “Surviving R. Kelly.” The survivors recall the disturbing details of his cruelty and will make anyone with the “I support X celebrity as a musician or artist, but not as a person” mindset reconsider how their support may be enabling horrors like these. It’s a deeply unsettling watch, but incredibly powerful.

“I Love You, Now Die” (HBO)

“I Love You, Now Die” provides a compelling exploration of a complex and baffling case — then-17-year-old Michelle Carter had convinced her 18-year-old boyfriend to kill himself. The docuseries goes in-depth about the ramifications of social media on adolescents and teen mental health. It’s a shocking tale, and there’s more to it than meets the eye.

“Abducted in Plain Sight” (Netflix)

Unfortunately, this documentary is a prime example of how docs often fail to captivate in the way docuseries do. “Abducted in Plain Sight” still made the list, however, because of the crime itself. Jan Broberg was abducted twice by her neighbor in the 1970s, all because of a strange psychological grip he had on each Broberg family member. This is the most shocking and unbelievable story I’ve ever heard, and I can’t even begin to give it a synopsis. This is one you truly have to see to believe.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Haley Arnold

Haley Arnold

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