9 stranger-than-fiction true-crime shows and documentaries to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

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The chills and adrenaline rush a crime drama brings is seldom matched by any other genre. And when it's known that the edge-of-the-seat case being discussed has occurred in real life, the experience becomes even more intense (read: terrifying). If you, too, are inclined towards gritty shows that introduce you to the shocking crimes of people around the world, here are the shows and documentaries to stream. (Trigger warning for mentions of physical and sexual abuse.)

Unsolved Mysteries

Horrific experiences of people that involve unexplained deaths, disappearances or even paranormal activities—mixed with immersive storytelling—are brought to light via this series. Every episode spotlights a different case where a victim's family members as well as investigative authorities introduce evidence and potential suspects, hoping that a viewer might be able to put the pieces together.

Streaming on Netflix

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

Chronicling the life of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, this docuseries unfurls his various crimes from the perspectives of his survivors. Epstein was arrested in 2019 after decades of sexually abusing underage women. He was also responsible for running an international sex trafficking ring. The series brings attention to the emotional trauma experienced by these women and aids in creating awareness against sexual predators.

Streaming on Netflix

American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020)

When Shanann Watts and her two daughters disappeared in Colorado in 2018, the authorities were baffled. The husband, Christopher Lee Watts, was interviewed by the police and denied any knowledge of regarding their disappearance, but the truth starts to unfurl after he failed a polygraph test and admitted to killing his family on record. This documentary dives deep into one of the most frightful cases of murder that sent shockwaves across the media, with archival footage, social media posts, official records, texts and home video footage to build the narrative. 

Streaming on Netflix

Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist

This series is the story of a regular pizza delivery man, Bryan Wells, who tried to rob a bank in 2003 and died in the process. The plot isn't that straightforward though, as the reason for his death was a ticking time bomb strapped to his neck, which exploded. Investigative authorities concluded that Wells was a willing accomplice in the heist but was told that the bomb was fake. However, his family stood by their statement that he was threatened with his life to rob the bank. Evil Genius tries to figure out the truth behind this bizarre incident.

Streaming on Netflix

How To Fix a Drug Scandal

In the aftermath of disastrous crimes, law enforcement agencies and crime labs are the holy grail when it comes to discovering the truth. But what happens when the people responsible for justice are the real criminals?  In 2013, a 35-year-old drug lab chemist, Sonja Farak, was arrested for tampering with evidence in a case. Just being the tip of the iceberg, it was gradually revealed that she consumed the drugs she was supposed to test and her actions caused several wrong convictions in court. 

Streaming on Netflix

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez

A horrific retelling of events that involved the death of an eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, is the crux of this docuseries. It uncovers prolonged physical abuse the child suffered at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend, which resulted in his demise. The series provides a detailed look at the court proceedings, and challenges the system that failed miserably at protecting him despite the situation being reported multiple times. It is also a violent shake-up for people to question child protection laws and acts that are in place.

Streaming on Netflix

Delhi Crime

The brutal Nirbhaya gang-rape which took place in South Delhi in 2012 was enough to send shockwaves across an entire nation. The plot takes you to the aftermath of the crime as it follows DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah), in her attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice by any means necessary. The creators used the case files of the Delhi Police as reference for the story. 

Streaming on Netflix

Forensic Files

The fourteen-season series has dramatic representations of real-life cases from around the world. The recurring theme is the extraordinary work by forensic experts who use their skills to examine crimes and evidence, and point out otherwise undetectable clues. However, not every episode covers a crime. There are instances when investigations prove that suspects are innocent and the potential offenses were accidents.

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

The limited series accounts the life and crimes of a convicted murderer, Ted Bundy. He was responsible for raping, kidnapping and murdering numerous young women during the 1970s. The four-episode limited series uses archival footage, photos, law enforcement evidence and interviews of death row inmates. The narrative also includes comments by his survivors, witnesses, former friends, family and officials.

Streaming on Netflix

Also read:

This might be the reason why women are obsessed with true crime stories

9 dark serial-killer films to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar

10 must-watch cop shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more

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