We have a confession: We’re obsessed with true crime documentaries. And though we can’t quite put our finger on why we’re so taken with twisty tales of ordinary people caught up in movie-like murder mysteries IRL, we’re not going to question it. (Maybe it has something to do with spending our formative years watching reruns of Unsolved Mysteries with Grandma? Hmmm…)
Whatever the case may be, we’re hooked, so this weekend, we’re putting together a lineup of the best true crime docs to watch with your best friend, your partner, or your OG partner-in-crime — your grandma!
Ahead, find our picks for true crime docs anyone will love. Just don’t watch them too close to bedtime!
1“Making a Murderer” (Netflix)
After serving 18 years for a murder, Steven Avery was exonerated by DNA testing and released. But just two years later, after filing a $36 million civil lawsuit against the police department and district attorney who wrongfully convicted him, Avery was charged with yet another murder. Did he do it? We may never know for sure, but Netflix tries to put all the pieces together in this puzzling documentary series.
2“Mommy Dead and Dearest” (HBO)
If there’s one thing you gather from studying true crime docs, it’s that things are not always as they appear. Case in point: The curious tale of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a mother-daughter duo who many believed were living a fairytale life, but whose lives were in fact the stuff of nightmares. Good luck falling asleep after watching this deeply disturbing doc.
Exposing familial secrets of child abuse, mental illness, and forbidden love that drove a child to kill her own mother, you may never look at the family next door the same way again.
3“The Central Park Five” (Amazon Prime Video)
In 1985, five black and Latino teenage boys were arrested and charged with brutally attacking and raping a white woman jogger in New York’s Central Park. The five would spend half their lives behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit before the truth about what really happened became clear. Directed by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns, The Central Park Five captures the riveting story of innocent young men of color scapegoated for a heinous crime, pointing a finger at the United States’ broken justice system.
4“Amanda Knox” (Netflix)
Girl next door or cold-blooded killer? Amanda Knox was twice convicted for the murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher while abroad in Italy. And though Knox was acquitted of all charges in both cases, questions still remain. We’re certain you’ll have trouble making up your mind when you watch this revealing Netflix documentary in which Knox opens up about the case that feels far from closed, detailing her experience as a young woman caught up in the middle of a movie-worthy murder mystery.
5“O.J.: Made in America” (Amazon and Hulu)
Everyone remembers where they were when news broke of O.J. Simpson fleeing police by speeding down a Los Angeles freeway in a white Bronco. It was a defining moment of the 1990s in the United States. Little did we know “the crime of the century” would continue to fascinate us well into the next millennium, providing irrefutable evidence of America’s obsession with fame, celebrity, wealth, violence, and all the ways in which they intersect.
6“The Jinx” (HBO)
Can you say Netflix and chill-ed to the bone? Oddball real estate mogul Robert Durst may have killed his wife in 1982. Oh, and the woman thought to be the key witness in his wife’s disappearance. And maybe his neighbor, too. But he maintains his innocence and he’s free because, you know, justice.
Watch the unfurling of a million red flags in this six-part examination of the reclusive (and potentially murderous) millionaire by the man behind true crime classic Capturing the Friedmans, director Andrew Jarecki.
7“Casting JonBenet” (Netflix)
The unsolved death of 6-year-old child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey in her Boulder, Colorado home in 1996 remains the world’s most sensational child murder case. In this unusual doc, various Colorado-area actors audition to embody the real people involved in the case, including Boulder police officials, JonBenet’s mother and father, and even JonBenet herself. During the process, the would-be actors share their memories of the case, their feelings about it, and offer their own speculations, giving new life to a mystery that will never die.
8“The Keepers” (Netflix)
On November 7th, 1969, a beloved nun and Catholic high school teacher, Cathy Cesnik, disappeared. Nearly two months later, her body was found, but her killer remains unnamed. It wasn’t until the 1990s, when a former student accused the high school’s chaplain of sexual abuse, that this cold case warmed up. But what’s the connection? God only knows, but director Ryan White hopes to uncover the truth. It just may take a miracle.
Pop some popcorn, fire up your favorite streaming service, and enjoy your true crime weekend!