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In the mood for a guilty pleasure that also scares you? Dive into our list of true crime specials on Netflix, then tell us your favorite!

True crime on Netflix: Add these disturbing docs to your queue

The true crime genre has increasingly become a common obsession. Even Taylor Swift is a fan, and her obsession inspired her murder mystery song “no body, no crime” with HAIM. What’s it about the genre that gets the best of us hooked to the most gruesome crimes? This obsession, according to science, tells us a lot about the human psyche. 

An interesting observation made in a 2010 research was that women are more avid devourers of true crime than men. The possible reason cited behind this was that women were most drawn to true-crime stories that helped them identify red flags, spot danger, and offer tips on staying alive. 

In another rather crooked reasoning, true crime stories happen to be comforting. Why? They reassure us of the horrors that we escaped. In a way, true crime can give us a whiff of invincibility by feeling that we cheated death. It may not be logical, but it’s a nice thought to comfort oneself. 

American Murder: The Family Next Door

 The very memory of the 2018 Watts family murders is bone-chilling. One moment there’s a portrait of a happy family of four & the next moment we discover Chris Watts had murdered his wife Shanann and their two daughters, Bella & Celeste. Shanann was pregnant with their third child at the time. 

American Murder: The Family Next Door’s every bit the plot of a horror movie: Chris pretends the disappearance of his wife & children has shaken him, but later, it turns out he was having an affair with girlfriend Nichol Kessinger. Eventually, he confesses to the crime. The documentary uses raw, firsthand footage to make it a tad bit more gruesome to sit through. 

Trial by Media

In the true crime documentary miniseries Trial by Media, “some of the most dramatic trials of all time are examined with an emphasis on how the media may have impacted verdicts”. 

The question of the media’s role in influencing trial courtroom hearings has been widely debated, and here we get some meat on the issue through six trials where media presentation of the cases added fuel to the fire. 

Trials like the Subway Vigilante, The Jenny Jones Show murderer, Big Dan’s . . . all these cases had two things in common: each was more harrowing than the other & all of them were heavily scrutinized in the media. Trial by Media is not brilliant enough to blow our minds with answers, but it does make us question certain angles. 

The Confession Killer

What happens when a killer confesses to multiple homicides by sketching victim’s portraits and sharing brutal details of the crimes? The last possibility to pop in our minds was that he’d be lying. But it turns out that the DNA evidence & a little detective work on the timelines suggested so. 

The Confession Killer is the story of Henry Lee Lucas, sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of eleven homicides among the hundreds he confessed to but didn’t commit. The case is as complicated as they come. 

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

No other documentary looks at a case and sparks a conversation about an entire subculture. In Tiger King, Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage – currently serving a 22-year prison sentence on two counts of murder-for-hire, including the very viral Carole Baskin – is shown as he is: a zoo owner in Oklahoma who breeds tigers.

Baskin, an animal lover & activist, wanted Joe’s Zoo to stop breeding exotic cats & tigers. That seems ground enough for a . . . murder? Watch to find out.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

In 2019, Netflix brought Zac Efron on screen as a serial killer in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and we’re not complaining about that. But it’s basic human decency to have a qualm or two about a man who went on a murder spree so unhinged that we don’t even know the exact number of his victims. 

Confessions of a Killer is a four-part true-crime docuseries featuring tapes of Ted Bundy’s confessions to murdering at least thirty women. The docuseries also features interviews with investigators who worked on Bundy’s cases while he was at large and after he was caught. 

Which true crime documentary on Netflix is your favorite? Drop it in the comments below!

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