Need to dive into a good mystery or follow a fascinating case? We have you covered. There are ton of great crime series on Netflix—so many, in fact, that we have decided to narrow it down. Below are 5 of our favorites currently streaming on Netflix, including recent additions to the service (if you’re tired of us recommending Happy Valley over and over again, but seriously). If you are looking for a wider array of choices, you can also check out our list of the 100 Best TV Shows on Netflix, Ranked.
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I’m old enough to remember when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ (ATF) raid of David Koresh’s compound resulted in a 51-day standoff that left 76 people dead. But I was also full of youthful naïveté and a strong belief about who was right and who was wrong. What I recall most from that time is thinking, “Why would anyone live in a cult and follow a man who thinks he’s God? Why would they give their life for him?”
Waco humanizes the story, making not only Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) but also his followers fully developed characters. The six-episode series focuses on the nine months leading up to the 1993 raid and its horrifying aftermath. By the time we meet Koresh, he’s already the leader of Branch Davidians, “married” to multiple women and the father of 13 children born by these various wives. He has a gift for recognizing the vulnerable and the wounded—the lost souls. In fact, what Waco does best is make Koresh not a monster. It almost poses the question, “Could he be a compassionate leader even though he was sexually abusing a young follower and perhaps others?” Which prompts another: Can I like the miniseries while also being concerned by its perspective? With the thought-provoking, risky, and engaging Waco, the answer is largely, “Yes.” —Amy Amatangelo
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One of the best things about this deliciously pulpy true crime series, based on the popular podcast, is how quickly things move. In only the second episode, the cracks in the seemingly perfect world shared by John (a terrific Eric Bana) and Debra (Connie Britton) are starting to show. By the time John says to Debra’s beloved nephew, “You should be glad your dad killed your mom,” the series has moved into straight-up horror thriller territory. Britton (and her fabulous hair) make every project better, but Dirty John’s grifter story benefits from a strong cast all around. It’s also easy to be fascinated by Debra’s mother, Arlane (Jean Smart), who seems so willing to accept the new man in her daughter’s life despite the warning signs. “I love him because he loves you,” she tells her. She might be the key to why Debra, a successful and smart business woman, is so gullible when it comes to love—with devastating consequences. Dirty John equals extra TV calories you might not need, but should devour anyway. — Amy Amatangelo
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BBC Two’s Giri / Haji, available in the U.S. via Netflix, is already one of the year’s best surprises. The international thriller starts when a Tokyo detective, Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira), is tasked by a prominent Yakuza crime family—in conjunction with the police force—to secretly go to London in search of his brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka ), who he thought died a year ago. The hope is that bringing Yuto back will stop a sprawling war that he helped kickstart among the Yakuza factions. But like Kenzo’s investigation into Yuto’s disappearance and faked death, Giri /Haji is full of unexpected twists, not just in its narrative but in its form. It’s dark and violent at times, but also funny and full of heart. At the center of the story is the tale of two brothers, yet it’s also about forged family and discovering the truth about one’s self. The gang war is the framework for the story, which plays out in many ways like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (as far as a variety of different crime bosses all marching toward one another); and yet, one of its most moving scenes takes place during a quiet, makeshift Yom Kippur dinner regarding atonement.
The series is just frankly stunning. And crucially, funny. Though it would be wonderful to spend more time in this world with a second season, there is a palpable and beautiful sense of healing that has ended this one. —Allison Keene
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We’re not saying Tiger King is good, or healthy, or something you won’t feel guilty about watching. It’s impossible to deny the impact this documentary about big cat collectors has had on pop culture over the last 10 days, though, or to argue that the story itself isn’t perversely compelling. Almost nobody is likable in this seven-episode descent into human misery and animal abuse, and yet it’s hard to look away from the egomaniacal fantasies of Joe Exotic, the sex cult drama of Doc Antle, or the slightly classier facade of Carole Baskin, who tries to retain a veneer of bland, bourgeois respectability while keeping cats in captivity and exploiting the labor of her volunteers (and, yes, whose first husband disappeared mysteriously…). Somehow one of the more likable figures is a drug lord who claims to be the basis for Tony Montana—that’s how contemptible almost everybody else in this series is. Yes, this might be bottom-feeder reality trash dressed up with post-Serial true crime prestige—and yes, its central message of “maybe random yahoos shouldn’t be allowed to own endangered wildlife that can kill a human in a heartbeat” is a noble but blazingly obvious one—but damned if it isn’t as entertaining as anything else you’ve seen this year. —Garrett Martin
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What do you get when an alleged former IRA bomber from the Falls Road in Belfast (who spent time in the infamous Long Kesh prison on charges of murder) becomes a respected novelist and, in his 50s, creates a TV show based on gang culture in East London? This singular biography, belonging to Ronan Bennett, yields up Top Boy, the UK’s slightly less ambitious answer to The Wire. The first two seasons debuted in 2011 and 2013, making the show’s return one of the most unlikely TV events of the year. This is more than welcome—amidst the stifling realism and cruelty of the fictional Summerhouse estates, there is poetry (like The Wire, the patois is a delight) and vulnerable humanity, subject always to the grinding machinery of systemic violence. Sharon Duncan-Brewster is excellent as Lisa, the resilient mother of Ra’Nell, who was the star until the creators realized what they had in Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson, two real-life rappers who are spectacular as Dushane and Sully—friends and enemies fighting for oxygen and power in a world that is loath to give up either for very long.—Shane Ryan
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