Why are we so interested in true crime? The idea of being heavily interested in the way people commit horrible criminal acts doesn’t exactly sound right but, as it turns out, you’re not the only one with the same interest. Professionals have concluded that it’s perfectly normal to love true crime (exercising your moral compass and whatnot), which is probably why the genre has come into its own in recent years. Whether it’s a podcast, film, or something else entirely, true crime content has fascinated us all in one way or another. Here’s a list of our favorites:
Memories of Murder
The film is loosely based on the Hwaseong serial murders of South Korea that happened between 1986 and 1991. Released in 2003, this film was directed by Academy Award winner Bong Joon-ho (of Parasite fame) and stars Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang-kyung as detectives trying to solve the case. While it remained unsolved for a number of years, the murderer was finally caught in 2019.
When They See Us
If you sat through The Trial of the Chicago 7, you can sit through something good for once. When They See Us is a retelling of the Central Park jogger case, where five young black men were falsely convicted for the rape and assault of a white woman in Central Park. The critically-acclaimed, Emmy award-winning miniseries is directed by Ava Duvernay and is available to stream on Netflix. (We suggest you grab a box of tissues.)
Set in Thailand in the 1970s, The Serpent is based on the real-life crimes of gem dealer and serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who killed young tourists traveling through Bangkok. If you’re wondering what makes him different, well, unlike most serial killers, Sobhraj was a celebrity of sorts, often described as charming and suave, up until he would drug and kill his victims. The series stars Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman as his girlfriend-accomplice, Marie-Andree LecLerc. It’s available to stream on Netflix right now.
Starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette, the eight-episode miniseries is based on the real-life case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who had been accused of abusing her daughter as a result of having Munchausen by proxy. If the case sounds familiar, it’s because it was also adapted on The Politician by Ryan Murphy.
Yes, finding a walkie talkie that communicates with the past doesn’t exactly fit the bill of true crime, however, it’s interesting to point out that this series was inspired by real-life criminal cases in South Korea, which also includes the Hwaseong serial murders covered by Memories of Murder.
If you have less than an hour to kill and want fun visuals and humor, the ghoul boys have you covered. Skeptic Shane Madej and true believer Ryan Bergara will take you through true unsolved crimes, supernatural cases, and even sleep in haunted houses–all for your entertainment. All 7 seasons and their respective postmortem Q&As are available on YouTube.
Confusing, I know, but this show has been around since 1987. Initially a television show on NBC, Unsolved Mysteries returns from a 10-year hiatus with new seasons on Netflix. Classic in every sense of the word, each episode focuses on a single mystery, complete with interviews and dramatic reenactments. What more can you ask for?
Making a Murderer
If you’re just getting into the true crime genre, Making a Murderer is an essential watch on Netflix. The true crime documentary tells the story of Steven Avery, a man who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder. He entered prison in 1985 and was released in 2003 after getting exonerated, however, in 2007 he was convicted again for the murder of a young woman.
If you’ve already watched this, check out Long Shot (2017). It’s about a man named Juan Catalan who was arrested for a murder he didn’t commit. A clip from the show Curb Your Enthusiasm was the key to proving his innocence. The documentary is available on Netflix, as are other classics like Evil Genius and the Keepers.
Operation Varsity Blues
Ah, white collar crime, the most annoying type of crime. The documentary covers the 2019 college admissions scandal which uncovered an almost decade-long operation where over 750 families were involved in paying money to inflate entrance exam scores, bribe college officials, and fake credentials in over 11 universities. This case famously involves actress Lori Laughlin and her daughter, Olivia Jade, a known YouTuber whose content revolves around her life at UCLA. The documentary is available to stream on Netflix.
Also available on Netflix, Athlete A focuses on the gymnasts who survived the abuse of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was given a life sentence for sexually assaulting 265 young women and girls, a lot of whom were part of the United States women’s national gymnastics team. If you’re interested in more about the scandal, you should also listen to Believed, an NPR podcast that discusses the harrowing abuse and suffering of over 150 women who gave their testimonies at Nassar’s sentencing.
The one that started it all. In case you missed the phenomenon, Serial is the ancestor of every true crime podcast you know and love. Hosted by investigative journalist Sarah Koenig, Season 1 famously covers the 1999 murder of 18 year old student Hae Min Lee, whose ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, became the main suspect of her case (another podcast, Undisclosed, continues where Season 1 of Serial left off). Serial produced 3 seasons overall and won multiple awards including the Peabody. It’s currently the most downloaded podcast of all time with over 340 million downloads.
My Favorite Murder
Ever want to just casually talk about real-life crimes? Sit back and listen to comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark as they chat about their favorite murders. Funny and refreshing, My Favorite Murder has been known to add some levity to the otherwise dark narration of the true crime genre. Even better than the podcast itself is the fan community (lovingly called the Murderinos) that they’ve built over the years.
Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo
Connie Walker, the host and creator of Missing and Murdered, set out to raise awareness about the systemic oppression experienced by indigenous people in Canada as well as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement. The podcast’s first season, “Who Killed Alberta Williams,” was a hit among listeners and is only ramping up from there. Its second season, “Finding Cleo,” is the podcast at its best, intertwining facts, history, and masterful storytelling in 10 succinct episodes.
Have a favorite we missed? Leave your suggestions down below! And if you’re game to solve your own mysteries, check out SHOOR’s diverse catalogue of mystery experiences today.