Crime documentaries have become pretty popular, which has made it hard to separate the good from the chaffe. Peter Machinis offers his opinions on the best crime docs on Netflix.
There are a lot of different genres of shows and movies on Netflix, one of which that has received a great deal of popularity being crime documentaries. Crime is an alluring genre, true-crime stories much more so, and some view it as a guilty pleasure. This is because some crime documentaries can feel exploitative or problematic; on one hand you have documentaries that feel like they glorify the criminal, and on the other hand you have documentaries that are unauthorized, which may make the victim feel upset. Peter Machinis shares his recommendations for the best Netflix crime documentaries.
Content warning: murder, child sexual abuse
Peter Machinis’ Top Netflix Crime Documentary Picks
One of the earlier Netflix crime documentaries that really kicked off the genre on the platform was Making a Murderer, which alleges that the subjects of the documentary, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, did not commit the crimes they were accused of, and in fact that the investigators were out to get Avery. This created a huge debate over the two figures, as well as debates over whether the documentary misrepresented, intentionally or not, certain information.
There are other good documentaries to be found; one that Peter Machinis enjoyed was “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” which follows the life and crimes of the titular subject, a football player who was convicted of murder. “Don’t F**k with Cats” is also an interesting documentary; it is certainly not recommended for people if they find themselves put off by cats being harmed, Peter Machinis warns, although the documentary makes an effort to censor more extreme footage. The documentary also touches upon the question of the morality of watching crime documentaries as well.
Not all crime documentary series on Netflix are about murder, however, but they are no less alarming, Peter Machinis points out. One such documentary, “Abducted in Plain Sight,” discusses how a trusted family friend can exploit that trust in order to cause harm. Without discussing it in any greater detail, this documentary veers into the shocking and strange, and is certainly not to be viewed unprepared for either, Peter Machinis notes.
But sometimes, crime documentaries can get a little too heavy. Sometimes, you want to be able to enjoy the feel of a crime documentary without the knowledge of something horrible having occurred, Peter Machinis notes. For those who want that, American Vandal is the right pick for you. Spanning two seasons, American Vandal follows two high school documentarians doing overly dramatic documentaries about vandalism. It’s just a shame that this inventive idea did not get off the ground, Peter Machinis laments.