11 crime shows to watch as if you didn't have enough trouble falling asleep
Why do we do this to ourselves?
The American drama Dexter returning to TV for its second run has brought back a distinct memory imprinted like a stubborn footprint on my brain. As I was mindlessly flipping through channels once, I stumbled upon a scene of the titular character butchering one of his victims in his plastic-wrapped ‘kill room’. This was the beginning of me falling for gruesome details of murder and intrigue, something people have been obsessed with since the 1400s.
There is nothing weird about being obsessed with the genre either. Dr Michael Mantell, the former chief psychologist of the San Diego Police Department, told NPR, “I think our interest in crime serves a number of different healthy psychological purposes. When we read about crime, we’re thinking about how would we handle if we were victim? And there’s a catharsis that is actually healthy.”
The mark of a good crime show is the adrenaline rush you feel after the end of an episode, before you inevitably click on the ‘Next Episode’ option.
While we count down the days until Dexter is back on our screens, let’s turn to these crime shows and true-crime documentaries to keep us company
11 bingeable crime shows to stream if you want an at-home adrenaline rush
It’d be a crime to curate a crime watchlist without mentioning the show that has captured our collective fancy: the Penn Badgley-starrer You.
This psychological thriller delves into the psyche of Joe Goldberg, a homicidal psychopath in the guise of a caring boyfriend, whose powerful inner monologues rationalising his violence will tempt you to be ensnared in his web.
Following his warped pursuit of eternal love, You is back to its murderous best in its newly released season 3. Because, as they say, all is fair in love and war, isn’t it?
Watch on Netflix.
House of Secrets (2021)
The three-episode true-crime documentary circles around the strange life and even stranger deaths of eleven members of the Chundawat family. Was this a murder, a mass suicide, an occult practice gone wrong, or a case of accidental death?
With testimonials from the investigating officers, various experts and the friends and family of the 11 deceased, House of Secrets answers questions about this absurd and shocking case that were left to the public’s imagination all these years.
How and why did three generations of one family commit suicide together? What was the significance of the 11 pipes that were protruding from their house? What was written in the diaries that seemed to be the key to unravelling this entire case?
What makes House of Secrets such a phenomenal watch is that, despite being based on an incident that sent shockwaves through the country, it goes beyond the gory details and dives into the sociological and psychological aspects behind the Burari deaths.
This show is the equivalent of an unputdownable mystery novel. Once you’ve started, there is no getting up until you have all the answers.
Watch on Netflix
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark ( 2020)
Based on a book by the same name, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark follows author Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the murky world of a monstrous predator she dubbed the “Golden State Killer”.
This unnamed assailant was responsible for over 50 rapes and 13 murders that shook California to its very roots in the ’70s and ’80s.
Although, this is not your average true-crime documentary. There are a bazillion of those. This series is a testament to one woman’s quest to get justice for those who were violently assaulted by a man who was never found. The show features several survivors who recount the nightmarish ordeal in great detail.
McNamara followed the evidence and ensured that the case stayed in the public eye. She worked tirelessly day and night towards her goal — to catch the Golden State Killer. Last year, after 40 years of committing the crimes, Joseph James DeAngelo was finally brought to justice. He pleaded guilty and was finally sentenced to life imprisonment.
One season. 7 episodes. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark is one of the most bone-chilling true-crime documentaries of our generation.
Watch it on Disney+ Hotstar
If you need a break from grisly murders and true-crime documentaries but still can’t eat dinner without watching something that will boost your adrenaline, Jamtara should be next on your list.
The show is based in a town called Jamtara in Jharkhand. It revolves around a highly lucrative phishing scam run by a group of rag-tag boys who are all “chouthi fail”. Their clever deception and street smarts ensure they are always flush with cash.
Although, their get-rich-quick schemes and their ill-gotten gains come with strings attached. It causes a shift in power and everyone- from corrupt politicians to dirty cops- wants a piece of the cake. Each episode is riddled with dramatic brawls, sharp twists and mounting suspense that will get you hooked faster than a fish.
Watch on Netflix
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)
As the name suggests, the 6-episode thrilling series tells the story of Robert Durst, an insanely wealthy real estate heir, and his involvement in the disappearance of his wife, the killing of author Susan Berman and the dismemberment of Durst’s neighbour Morris Black.
Using a wide range of news footage, security feeds, evidence and archival interviews, the series paints a compelling picture of the double-life that Durst led. Playing out with enough drama to be categorizsd as a daytime TV serial, The Jinx eventually led to Durst’s arrest.
In 2015, Durst was taken into custody while he was holed up in a New Orleans hotel. This happened on the eve of the airing of the final episode of this series in which he was confronted by the series creator, Andrew Jarecki, with some seriously incriminating evidence — a letter about one of the murders.
During the interview, Durst denied writing the letter. But after, when he went to the bathroom, apparently unaware that his microphone was still recording, he can be heard muttering something to himself that ended with, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
This statement was considered a confession by the prosecutors. Six years of his arrest, Durst was finally convicted just a few weeks ago, and sentenced to life in prison.
True crime doesn’t get much better than this.
Watch on Disney+Hotstar
The Sinner (2017)
When I watched this psychological thriller for the first time, I was practically glued to my screen for two days straight. It was the first time I had tapped into my God-given talent of binge-watching a show over the span of a weekend. I couldn’t help myself, I was as engrossed in this show as a 12-year-old girl is in her first crush.
The Sinner follows the adventures of Detective Ambrose as he investigates various mysteries and tries to analyse how seemingly ordinary people can commit such heinous murders. Each season revolves around a different grisly case and they all will keep you at the edge of your seat, unwilling to blink.
Are you ready to get your binge on?
Watch on Netflix
My Name (2021)
After you’re done watching the Korean drama Squid Game, My Name is the crime thriller you must add to the top of your watchlist.
The show features girl-next-door Han So Yee in the role of a woman seeking vengeance for the murder of her father (which she witnessed). Placing her trust in a ruthless crime lord, she enters the police force under his direction, only to discover that she may be way over her head.
Watching K-dramas may be one of my many obsessions, but this one still thoroughly surprised me with its Scorcese-worthy plot twist. I shall say no more.
Watch on Netflix.
Who Killed Sara? (2021)
Before Squid Game overtook it, Who Killed Sara? was Netflix’s most-watched foreign-language TV series. And for good reason.
Hell-bent on exacting revenge for his sister’s death and his resulting wrongful incarceration for her murder for 18 years, who killed Sara is the million-dollar question that Alex Guzman — played by Manolo Cardona — wants the answer to. Was it plainly obvious who it was? Or perhaps someone entirely out of the blue? That answer is kept close to the chest on the show, so you’ll have to tune in to find out.
Watch on Netflix.
The Chestnut Man (2021)
The Chestnut Man, based on Sven Sveistrup’s debut novel, is a disturbing psychological thriller that will leave you riveted over its 6-episode run.
The series begins in 1987 with the discovery of an entire family’s gruesome killings at a remote farm. Jump to thirty years later, a young lady is found hacked and tortured in a playground in modern-day Copenhagen. One of the few hints? In place of a lost limb, a little chestnut miniature.
The show’s well-paced narrative will have you struggling to connect the dots as it leads to a gratifying, unpredictable finale.
Watch on Netflix.
If you told me you guessed what happened in the finale of this crime thriller, I’d know you were lying.
Nick Brewer, a family man, is kidnapped at the start of the Netflix limited series. However, what appears to be an abduction case gets more convoluted when footage of him carrying a series of signs are published. One accuses him of abusing women, while another alleges he murdered someone. While his family hunts for the individuals who abducted Nick, they must also consider what Nick might have committed to triggering this bizarre abduction scenario.
Like its title, Clickbait — although not intellectual — grips you, hurtling you along and leaving you satisfied with its eight episodes that are dependably bizarre enough to keep you hooked.
Watch on Netflix.
Only Murders In The Building (2021)
If your brain is screaming for air after having watched all these crime dramas, we recommend you watch Only Murders In The Building.
When a gruesome death happens inside their expensive Upper West Side apartment, three strangers who share an interest in real crime find themselves engulfed in it. They are addicted to conspiracies and are certain that one of the numerous wealthy inhabitants is a killer, and thus the tale begins.
The Selena Gomez-starrer is a fresh alternative to the same old crime shows crowding the OTT platform, sprinkled with a generous helping of comedy. If nothing else, watch it for the Manhattan aesthetic that they’ve got down to pat, even using the font of The New Yorker magazine.