The Best True Crime Documentaries on Netflix

Netflix helped bring true crime fascination to the streaming era with these documentaries and docuseries.

Making a Murderer, Evil Genius, Wild Wild Country
Photo: Netflix

It might seem contradictory that the rise of short video clip popularity coincided with the popularity of long form journalism, but Netflix may be the common factor. The streaming network didn’t invent true crime documentation, but it helped shape the style, and keeps a vast repository of the hottest cold cases.

Real-life crime stories are riveting, whether the watcher is concerned about avoiding such events or solving them. There is something for every taste, from feature-length documentaries to full series. Not all crimes are equal under the laws of public opinion, but these are some of the most dangerously addictive true crime offerings currently available on Netflix.

Making a Murderer (2015)

Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s 10-part documentary on Steven Avery catapulted Netflix to the top of the True Crime streaming game. Making a Murderer spurred the fascination with the genre more than any other series. Avery served 18 years in prison for the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen before being exonerated. The DNA in the case was matched to another suspect, already known to the police. Avery was released in September 2003.

Several years later, Avery was charged, along with his then-16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey, with the rape and murder of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. The filmmakers spent three years chronicling efforts to clear their names, but they were not released.  Making a Murderer season 2 heard evidence implicating another party possibly responsible for Halbach’s death. It wasn’t enough for reasonable doubt. Illinois lawyer Kathleen Zellner, who represents Avery, calls the proceedings “a case of gross, extreme, egregious prosecutorial misconduct.”


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