For countless decades now the genre of ‘true crime’ has dominated the bookshelves of literary fans who enjoy reading about the darker side of life. True crime films and pulp magazines with lurid headlines and descriptions of real-life murders have also been hugely popular since their inception in the early 20th Century.
Of course, it didn’t take television producers long to realise that the captive audience at home was more than a little partial to real-life tales of killers, kidnappers and con men. Most of us have watched hundreds of documentaries about all sorts of heinous events in our time, haven’t we?
Yet when Netflix released the ten-part crime investigation series Making a Murderer back in 2015, it caused waves the likes of which the streaming service never dreamed possible. Their intense delving into the hugely complicated and controversial case of Steven Avery’s two convictions for murder captured the public’s imagination in a serious way.
Season 1 is still available to watch on Netflix, with a second season coming our way later this month. If you’re yet to see Making a Murderer, you need to address that immediately. If you have and you’re looking for something similar to bring out your inner Sherlock even further, then give at least one of these true crime Netflix shows a try…
8 top Netflix UK shows like Making A Murderer:
Fans of Making a Murderer with a sense of humour, rejoice! Another Netflix original, this ‘true crime investigation’ investigates, well, a distinctly untrue crime – in that it’s entirely made up.
The series is a spoof of the Steven Avery-centred series, which pokes fun at the style of Making a Murderer, its contributors and even the viewers to a certain extent. The crime? A series of campus-based daubings that depict… How shall we put it? Male phalluses… 27 cars of teachers have fallen prey to the vandal’s spray can. But is the guilty party, notorious prankster Dylan Maxwell, actually guilty? American Vandal investigates. Sort of.
It’s a silly premise, but trust us – it works. Give it a try.
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Produced by Se7en director David Fincher, this late 70s-set drama tells the story of how the FBI’s famous Behavioral Sciences Unit came to be (the one made famous by Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs). Told from the point of view of the two federal agents that set it up, Mindhunter also works as a biography of the modern idea of the serial killer.
It’s patiently paced, well acted and schlock free. But while the blood is kept to a minimum, the creeps are not. The depictions of real-life murderers like Richard Speck and Ed Kemper are what really sets this apart from other serial killer TV thrillers.
Mindhunter might just be the best television series of the past few years.
IMDb Rating: 8.6
Evil Genius – aka Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist – tells, it’s no exaggeration to say, an odd tale. In fact, it may well tell the oddest tale in the history of odd tales. It was odd when it first came to light under the guise of ‘The Pizza Bomber Mystery’ back in 2003, but as this four-part Netflix original documentary explains, the background is, well, even odder…
A man called Brian Wells walks into the PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania and demands $250,000 in cash. He has a large metal collar locked around his neck. Fail to pay up or take too long and the bomb attached to the collar will explode, Wells tells the cashier. Some minutes later, police arrive and, on live television, the bomb detonates, killing Brian Wells.
It soon appears that there’s an ‘evil genius’ behind this and a few other heinous deeds that went down in Eerie. This is the captivating (and odd) story of the woman behind them.
IMDb Rating: 7.8
True fans of Making a Murderer may well argue that their favourite programme is the absolute zenith of crime documentaries. But those that argue that as absolute fact have likely never sat through the incredible twelve hours of footage that make up The Staircase. If there’s a true heir to the crown of Greatest Long-Form Crime Documentary, this is surely it.
The Staircase tells the full story of what happened at 1810 Cedar Street in Durham, North Carolina on the night of 9 December 2001. Did Michael Peterson push his wife Kathleen down the stairs? Did she fall? Was her death an accident? Was an intruder responsible? Or was there a more bizarre explanation behind her tragic demise? These questions linger in the air across the thirteen parts. No easy answers are ever offered. Why? Well, because that’s life. The truth is often just ever-so-slightly out of reach.
We follow the criminal case against Michael Peterson and watch how he builds his defence, how the trial plays out and we watch the aftermath. It’s a documentary that took over fifteen years to complete. Watch it and you’ll be shocked, appalled, suspicious, touched, angry, confused and enlightened. And never anything less than fascinated or entertained. This is truly unrivalled documentary making.
IMDb Rating: 8.1
The Confession Tapes
Similar in tone to Making a Murderer and carrying on the theme of scrutinising real-life convictions, The Confession Tapes isn’t quite as in depth, but it’s equally as thought-provoking. Instead of just one case being the focus here, we delve into six separate cases over seven episodes, each with one common theme… The validity of the confession that secured the case’s conviction.
Admission of a crime seems damning to most, and it often results in people going to prison. But just how reliable are taped confessions? This compelling documentary series shines a light on them and suggests that they’re quite often coerced and unreliable as indicators as to the real perpetrator. This is fascinating, if really quite worrying stuff.
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Who killed Sister Cathy? That’s the question at the heart of this gruelling and unflinching true crime investigation. The 1969 murder of Baltimore nun Sister Cathy Sesnik shocked the state at the time. And with good reason. After all, it’s not every day a nun is found frozen to a hilltop with her skull bashed in.
Unlike Making a Murderer, The Keepers doesn’t focus on the would-be criminals, so much as take an exhaustive look at the victim, her friends and pupils and the world she lived in. The at-times forensically-detailed picture created is traumatising and, quite frankly, hard to watch. But it’s essential viewing nonetheless.
Soon enough, The Keepers becomes less about the cold case and the crime itself and more a brutally shocking tale of systemic abuse and cover-up. This is tricky viewing but highly recommended.
IMDb Rating: 8.2
The People vs O J Simpson
The title of this may give off a distinct air of ‘documentary’, but this is, in fact, a drama. Albeit one based on the true story of the 1990’s most infamous celebrity story. The People vs O J Simpson is the first season of FX’s true crime anthology television series American Crime Story and – as you can imagine – focuses on the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.
An all-star cast including the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr, Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer and John Travolta combine to make this a cut above your average crime drama. The 22 Emmys it picked up can attest to that.
The next instalment of ACS, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, also comes very highly recommended indeed.
IMDb Rating: 8.5
We’ve brought Making a Murderer fans a few documentaries and a couple of dramas here in this list. And for our final Netflix suggestion, we’d like to recommend something that’s a little of both. A ‘docu-drama’ inspired rather vaguely by True Detective, this eight-part series blends the two forms together rather neatly, expertly telling the stories of some truly unforgettable homicides.
The scripted elements work well, but it’s the interviews with the detectives about their most shocking case that really sticks in the memory.
IMDb Rating: 8.0
If you’re looking for true crime documentaries, Netflix more than has you covered. And so do we. So why not try giving one or two of these shows a try…?
Have we missed any excellent Netflix cop shows like Making A Murderer from our list? Let us know in the comments below!