As life has taken us down a path that feels like we’re living in a dystopian novel, many are turning to Netflix for an escape. But I don’t think any of us imagined that we’d be so consumed by a tale as outrageous as Tiger King.
This isn’t the first time that a true-crime series released by the streamer has become a sensation, so now’s the perfect time to check out some of those shows that paved the way. From Tiger King to Making a Murderer, here are the true-crime docuseries that you can watch right now on Netflix.
The most outrageous true-crime documentary to date on Netflix, Tiger King gives us a look at the unbelievable world of big cat owners in the U.S. At the center of this story is Joe Exotic, the larger than life owner of a roadside zoo in Oklahoma, and his sworn rival, Carole Baskin, an animal-rights activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary. The story takes a criminal turn when Baskin threatens to put Joe Exotic out of business.
When a crime lab chemist, Sonja Farak, is arrested for tampering with evidence, another side of the story unfolds: she was using the drugs that she was testing. This four-part series documents how Farak’s addiction and misconduct affected the people who were convicted as a result of her testing, recreates her grand jury testimony, and even interviews her family.
When a disturbing video of a figure in a green hoodie killing two kittens is posted online, a group of amateur sleuths joins forces to track him down. With each new video posted, the killer escalates his behavior until his final video’s victim is a human. It’s the story behind the tracking and capture of the Canadian killer who murdered and dismembered an international student from China to achieve fame and notoriety, and the manhunt that eventually ended with the murderer’s arrest.
When a controversial guru begins an intentional community in Oregon, conflict erupts between its citizens and local ranchers. This is the true story of Rajneeshpuram, the incorporated city founded by Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, in the early 1980s; his secretary and spokesperson Ma Anand Sheela; and the first bioterror attack in US history.
In 2003, a robbery gone wrong and a horrific public murder in Erie, Pennsylvania captured national attention. While trying to make an arrest in what’s known as the “Pizza Bomber Heist,” the FBI ends up in a cat-and-mouse game with an eccentric group of outsiders. The mastermind was arrested, but this four-part docuseries shows that there is much more of this story to be revealed.
This three-part series tells the tale of the late Aaron Hernandez who isn’t remembered for his career as a gifted football player drafted to the NFL at the age of 20. Instead, he is notorious for the brutal murder of three men including Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player. It explores the motivations behind his violent behavior in addition to featuring exclusive footage from his trial and conviction, phone calls from prison, and interviews with people connected to both Hernandez and Lloyd.
Crime novelist Michael Peterson was accused of killing his wife, Kathleen, after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their Forest Hills, North Carolina home. This docuseries includes the original episodes that aired on French television and three new episodes produced for Netflix.
This seven-part series is about the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a beloved Baltimore nun and Catholic-school teacher who went missing in 1969, and the mystery that still surrounds her death. In trying to get answers, a web of clergy abuse, repressed memories, and a possible cover-up begins to emerge.
Henry Lee Lucas confessed to hundreds of murders in the early 1980s, gaining the title of “America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.” Even though there was no direct evidence linking him to any of the crime scenes, he was able to sketch victim portraits while revealing brutal details of each attack. The narrative begins to fall apart with the introduction of DNA testing and evidence uncovered by attorneys and journalists, revealing the flaws in the justice system.
In Netflix’s first true-crime docuseries hit that was the talk of holiday dinner tables in 2015, Steven Avery is released from prison nearly two decades after a wrongful conviction only to find himself named the primary suspect in a horrifying new crime. The first season was filmed over a period of 10 years, but the story isn’t over yet and continues to unfold in Wisconsin, especially with efforts to overturn the conviction of Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey. The second season was released in 2018.
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Images Courtesy of Netflix