Today I’m sharing my top 15 Must-See Netflix True Crime Shows and Documentaries. Some of these are dramatisations, several are documentaries, and others are docuseries. All are based on true events. Many highlight important societal issues surrounding racism, justice, money, and the food industry. Others focus on specific cases or murderers, e.g. Ted Bundy and Ted Kazinsky.
Trigger Warning: Several of these shows and documentaries discuss highly sensitive topics, including murder, sexual assault, animal abuse, and violence. Some were distressing for me to watch.
15 Must-See Netflix True Crime Shows and Documentaries
1. Dirty Money
Each episode of Dirty Money focuses on a different crime and/or scandal, centred around money (pointing out the obvious!). From the President of Malaysia, to HSBC bank, to a Maple Syrup Heist… this series has it all. My mind was definitely opened by watching the Dirty Money series, and I certainly have a few companies on my list to boycott.
I’ve not been watching this in order, but instead, I’m picking certain episodes that look interesting to me. They’re all great (and in some cases, heartbreaking) so far.
2. The Great Hack
The Great Hack is especially relevant at the moment, with upcoming elections and concerns over data privacy. This documentary focuses on the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, explaining what happened in an easily digestible way.
I highly suggest watching The Great Hack. I had heard of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data concerns, but I didn’t realise quite how insidious it was. We’re not just talking about the UK and US here; Cambridge Analytica has impacted many elections across the world.
For those who have already seen The Great Hack, a recent follow-up discussion involving the directors and individuals featured in the documentary is available on YouTube. You can watch The Great Hack: One Year Later here.
3. Unabomber In His Own Words
I really enjoyed this docuseries all about Ted Kaczynski (known as the Unabomber). I had heard of the Unabomber before, but I didn’t know much about the details, maybe because I’m from the UK. The docuseries, centred on a rare interview with Ted Kaczynski, follows his life from a young university student, to one of the most feared individuals in US history.
American Crime Story
American Crime Story is an anthology dramatisation series, about… American crimes. It is produced by the same people who created the fictional series American Horror Story. Currently, there are two self-contained series, telling the stories of O.J. Simpson, and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
4. The People V. O.J. Simpson
I know, I know. This came out several years ago, but I’ve only watched it recently. The People V. O.J. Simpson is a dramatisation of his court trial and behind-the-scenes on both sides, featuring incredible actors John Travolta, David Schwimmer, and Sarah Paulson.
5. The Assassination of Gianni Versace
This mini-series cut me to the core. I adore Gianni Versace’s work, what happened to him was tragic and cruel. It follows the life of Andrew Cunanan, and the murder spree committed by him in 1997.
Darren Criss plays the role of Andrew Cunanan incredibly well, and Penelope Cruz is exceptional as Donatella Versace. The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the second in ‘American Crime Story’, following the People VS OJ Simpson. You can watch both seasons on Netflix!
6. Don’t F**k With Cats
I won’t lie to you, this one was very difficult to watch. I had to look away from the screen many times, and on some occasions put Netflix on mute. I struggled.
Don’t F**k With Cats has become notorious on the internet, and quite controversial due to the level of cruelty to cats shown on screen. The series shows how amateur internet sleuths tracked down an individual who uploaded videos of his crimes online.
Each episode of Rotten focuses on different foods, and how the increasing demand, profit margins and globalisation affects supply chains, the environment, and most of all, the farmers and growers. Capitalism is devastating.
You’ll find episodes on everything from peanuts and avocados, to wine and milk. There are two seasons available to watch on Netflix.
The chocolate episode particularly stuck out to me, featuring the ethical brand I recently wrote about: Tony’s Chocolonely. If you’re interested in finding out more, I also recommend watching The Chocolate Case on Amazon Prime.
This was recommended on Netflix as a ‘hidden gem’, and it certainly is! Icarus is a documentary all about the huge Russian Olympics ‘doping scandal’. It was a mind-blowing journey, centred on an American filmmaker and a Russian laboratory director. It starts off as an investigation into beating drug testing in cycling (inspired by Lance Armstrong), then turns into a scandal going all the way up to Vladimir Putin. You need to see it.
9. The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
This 3-part 2020 series is all about Aaron Hernandez, an NFL player who committed murder. It’s full of interviews from family and friends, exploring his psychology and what led to his crime.
10. Athlete A
Athlete A is definitely a must-see documentary. This documentary is nearly 2 hours long, going deep into the issues and toxic culture of USA Gymnastics, as well as cover-ups of sexual abuse of young girls by a Doctor.
As a sexual assault survivor myself, there were some very difficult scenes for me. You will hear testimonies from the victims.
11. The Keepers
The Keepers is another docuseries that affected me emotionally. Centred on the murder of a young nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, it exposes a deeply-veiled conspiracy involving a Priest accused of abuse.
Sister Catherine Cesnik sounds like she was an absolutely wonderful person, loved by all the girls she taught. Trigger warning: There are testimonies of sexual abuse in this docuseries.
12. Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
This 4-part Netflix series puts together a biographical portrait of notorious murderer Ted Bundy, from archival footage, interviews and audio recordings. It’s chilling.
13. Who Killed Malcolm X?
This 2020 docuseries is featured in the Netflix Black Lives Matter Collection. An activist is determined to find out who killed Malcolm X, and find justice, decades after his assassination.
Malcolm X is one of the most inspiring people. If you’ve not listened to any of his speeches, I highly recommend doing so! The way he was treated, vilified, and of course, assassinated, is truly despicable.
If you want to find out more about Black history and Anti-Racism, here are some resources.
14. Bikram. Yogi. Guru. Predator.
I used to practice Bikram Yoga a few years ago, but never knew much about Bikram himself. This documentary exposes the abuse and fraud committed by Bikram Choudhury, and the cult-like nature of his hot yoga. It’s shocking.
15. Tiger King
I’ve saved this one until last, because no doubt you’ve already heard of Tiger King! I thought it would be worth featuring regardless, in case you haven’t seen it yet.
It’s absolutely absurd, but there are people who run private zoos and breed big cats in the US. I had no idea. The story of Joe Exotic and his zoo has many twists and turns, including polyamorous marriage, drug abuse, animal abuse, death, and even murder-for-hire.
Notable Mentions on YouTube & Amazon Prime Video
This isn’t ‘true crime’, as it’s mostly based on urban legends. However, Lore is a very well-made series so I thought it was worth a mention. Each episode features a different legend, from various cultures. Two seasons are available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
A quick little shout-out to the guys over at Buzzfeed Unsolved. I love their YouTube show, the presenters/writers Ryan and Shane are both hilarious and informative.
The Chocolate Case
I mentioned The Chocolate Case earlier in this blog post, but here’s another reminder. If you have Prime Video, it’s definitely worth a watch. If you don’t have Prime Video, why not take a free 30–day trial?
Let me know if you recommend any other True Crime shows and documentaries on Netflix!
As of writing (July 2020), all of these 15 Must-See Netflix True Crime Shows and Documentaries are available to watch on Netflix UK. I apologise if they’re not available in your country!
All the best,