True crime is a genre that has taken over, allowing many people who have found themselves curious by these cases have a sense of understanding.
With women being the predominant victims in these situations, watching this content allows them a sense of control.
It is almost like the more we know, the better prepared we can be.
The influx of documentaries also allows a bigger platform for certain stories that deserve to be heard.
And sometimes, it is just about you being in the mood to sit down and watch some true crime.
These are just a few true crime options worth the watch because they are truly fascinating watches or because of the conversations that started afterward.
With many more coming this year, it felt only right to get ready by looking back at some of the most fascinating so far.
But this is only the beginning, with the must-watch true crime catalog spanning across many mediums, including podcasts and more.
I'll Be Gone In the Dark (HBO Max)
Michelle McNamara became interested in true crime after an unsolved murder from her childhood.
From there, she developed a specific investment in figuring out who the "Golden State Killer" (a moniker she helped coin) was.
She spent years collecting information and even went on to write a book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, which focused on her investigation to help find this killer that committed crimes in California in the early 1970s to mid-1980s.
Unfortunately, Michelle passed away before her book was complete, but those closest to her ensured that her hard work was complete and shared with the world after her death.
The impact that Michelle left behind went even further than that, with the Golden State Killer actually getting arrested on April 25, 2018.
I'll Be Gone In The Dark focuses on Michelle's journey working on her book and looking into this killer, who was finally caught for his crimes in large part because of her.
A perfect dedication to a woman who left behind a legacy, this six-part series can be experienced in full at HBO Max.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer (Netflix)
A recent addition to Netflix, this haunting documentary tells the story of how one of the most notorious serial killers was caught and brought to justice.
This is a limited feature that reframes Richard Ramirez's story, allowing those most affected by him to share their stories.
His victims, reporters, and even the cops that caught him allow their point of view to guide the audience through what happened.
Richard Ramirez was a serial killer known for his home invasion murder spree of the Los Angeles and San Francisco area from the summer of 1984 to 1985. He was known as the "Night Stalker" in a truly frightening time for everyone who lived in the California area.
Trial By Media (Netflix)
There is something very well done about a miniseries that doesn't linger on one story too long.
Trial By Media proves that by covering six different instances when a famous court case was largely influenced by extensive media coverage.
And while some of that may be good, the downside is the ability to heighten an already overwhelming situation.
Abducted In Plain Sight (Netflix)
If you are looking for a true-crime documentary with wild twists and turns, this one is a must-watch.
This feature covers Jan Broberg Felt's kidnappings, who was abducted twice as a child in the 1970s.
Here is the thing though, she was taken both times by her neighbor, a friend of the family who formed strange connections with her parents to gain access to Jan.
It is weird to witness the manipulation that went into integrating Robert Berchtold as a family friend, only for him to get away with highly inappropriate behavior towards Jan. It is astounding, and you wouldn't believe this happened if you didn't hear it from those who experienced it firsthand.
The Confession Tapes (Netflix)
This is a worthwhile watch for any true crime fanatic that is curious about the idea of fake confessions.
This two-season series presents multiple examples of people admitting to things that they didn't actually do for a multitude of reasons, including pressure from law enforcement.
With a mix of actual footage from these confessions and a deeper look into the crimes themselves, The Confession Tapes makes you question how many people are cornered into admitting to things they were never involved in.
It will shock you, but it will also make you very mad at the systems that allow this to happen.
Time: The Kalief Browder Story (Netflix)
Kalief Browder was a teenager sent to Rikers Island for three years for allegedly stealing a backpack.
During his time in prison, Kalief was subjected to two years of solitary confinement and suffered from the aftermath of that once he was released. Two years after he was released, Kalief ultimately committed suicide.
This heartbreaking and devastating story is one of many that demonstrate the ways that the criminal justice system is broken and how disproportionately the Black community suffers as a result.
Kalief continues to leave behind a legacy and serves as a reminder for activists fighting for reforming the New York City criminal justice system. This documentary allows those who don't know his story to learn more and take away from it a haunting reminder that this could have been prevented.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (Netflix)
The most documentary to make its way to Netflix is all about Elisa Lam's death in the infamous Cecil Hotel.
But what starts as a conversation about a confusing case branches out into a bigger conversation about the history of the hotel and even the role that online sleuths play in all of this.
While some help from online communities can help solve a case, this feature presents the possibility of how it can harm it from relentless cyberbullying to assumption-based investigative claims. People wanted more of a story about what happened to Elisa Lam when the truth was tragic and unfortunate.
This felt like a necessary watch for those who heard about the case but never knew the full details.
Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (Netflix)
Everyone knows about Ted Bundy, but hearing about him from those affected by him is definitely a different take.
This is a limited series documentary that didn't land with everyone but is worth checking out if only to form your own opinion about how Ted Bundy's life, crimes, arrests, and death is presented.
Especially if you come at it with some knowledge already, and Ted Bundy is a very well-known serial killer, that allows you to be less focused on all the information and more on how it is explored.
Anyone who might be interested in a more scripted approach, "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" is also streaming on Netflix and serves as a biographical film about his life with Zac Efron playing Ted Bundy.
Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO Max)
This documentary covers the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard and the aftermath revelation that her daughter killed her after years of abuse.
Her mother told Gypsy that she suffered from various illnesses, only for that not to be true. The film utilizes home videos, medical records, and even interview with Gypsy and others to prove how Dee Dee's Munchausen syndrome by proxy caused the cycle of events that lead up to her murder.
Hulu has a scripted TV show based on this exact case for anyone who would like a different take on this. The Act is an award-winning show that depicts what happened between Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard.
American Vandal (Netflix)
This may not be a true-crime documentary, but it is a must-watch for fans of the genre.
American Vandal is a mockumentary show with two legendary seasons. At the center were two high school friends investigating unique crimes like someone vandalizing cars at school with phallic images or contaminating lemonade at a Catholic school.
This show manages to spin each season into a hilarious and fascinating adventure.
The perfect pallet cleanser if you're looking for something more upbeat after too much true crime overload.
What true crime content have you been interested in lately?
What upcoming true crime content are you excited to experience?
What would you recommend a true-crime newbie fan to binge-watch?
Are there any cases you wish were talked about more?
Let us know in the comments below!
Yana Grebenyuk was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in April 2021.