The crazy of true-crime documentaries really took off with the release of Making a Murderer on Netflix in 2015. Since then, we have become a nation captivated by the twists and turns and messy realities of a true-crime story.
A good true crime documentary will thoroughly inform the viewer about the case at hand. A really good true crime documentary will also leave the viewer with questions and something to debate when the show is done. These five documentaries will teach you all about these true crime cases and really make you think about the world we’re all living in.
The Case Against Adnan Syed
This 4-part HBO docuseries covers the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the conviction of Adnan Syed for the crime. It’s a case that was made famous by the Serial podcast. This docuseries revisits original witnesses and goes back to the events leading up to the case. The documentary carefully explains the facts of the case and the questions that still remain over twenty years later. I watched all four episodes in one afternoon and became absolutely engrossed in the events and subsequent trial. The Case Against Adnan Syed is thoughtful and thorough and leaves the viewer pondering whether justice has been fairly served.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
This docuseries is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve watched in quite some time. Watching this tragedy unfold on Netflix made every bone in my body want to rescue this little boy from the horrors he suffered. Something about the victim being so young makes this documentary so moving. It is such a powerful call for reform in how our justice system functions in regard to child abuse cases. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is not exactly pleasant to watch. It’s gut-wrenching, anger-inducing, and deeply sad, but the story of Gabriel Fernandez is a story that needs to be told.
I Love You, Now Die
I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from a film feeling more conflicted than when watching the story of Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy. This two-part documentary film covers the relationship between Carter and Roy, Roy’s suicide, and Carter’s resulting trial for involuntary manslaughter. Both Carter and Roy had well-documented histories of mental illness, and this docuseries explores the effect this may have had on the case. I Love You, Now Die documents the trial and the events surrounding it, but it also leaves the viewer with questions about guilt, culpability, and mental illness especially as it relates to teenagers. This documentary left me pondering these questions for hours after the final credits rolled.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
The bizarre case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard is another one that tackles the ideas of mental health and child abuse as it relates to the criminal justice system. This HBO Documentary covers Dee Dee and Gypsy’s life together, and how that eventually lead to Dee Dee’s murder. The case is shocking, and like many other cases on this list, it will leave the viewer questioning the criminal justice system in cases of abuse, mental illness, and culpability.
Who Killed Little Gregory?
This French true-crime documentary series tells the story of a truly disturbing case. The case is the still-unsolved murder of a four-year-old boy named Gregory Villemin in 1984. The docuseries is in French but will English dubbed over it, so not to worry if you aren’t into subtitles. This documentary was fascinating because it’s a break from the constant inadequacies of the American criminal justice system. It’s a foray into a whole new world of disturbing crimes. The documentary is quite well made, and it will leave you, as the title suggests, wondering, who killed little Gregory?