I can’t always handle horror TV shows. Between the unexpected gore they’ll sometimes throw at you—I'm looking at you, American Horror Story—and the jump-scares that exist solely to make you, you know, jump? No, thanks. So when I want to feel a little freaked out, I watch true crime TV shows. Sometimes they're gory, but in that archival footage way that’s a little less visceral (also, nothing jumps out at me). Plus, it forces me to confront the inherent darkness of the human condition, and the knowledge that those capable of the most heinous acts just walk among us without ever calling attention to the horrors of their mind. So, you know, win-win.
There are a lot of spooky, riveting, can’t-believe-it’s-real true crime shows coming out in 2019. Here's a list of the best of the year so far—and the ones we can’t wait to check out.
Confessions With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (Netflix)
What’s It About: Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy brutally murdered over 30 women before he was caught in 1978. And unlike other serial killers that leave you wondering, “Who could commit something so horrific?”—well, Ted Bundy told us. He left hours and hours of tapes, in his own words to journalist Stephen Michaud, about his life and what he “imagined” the perpetrator of the crimes he was convicted of committing felt. This show explores what he said and why. It’s bone-chilling.
Premiere Date: January 24
Lorena (Amazon Prime)
What’s It About: Lorena Bobbitt was a tabloid fixture in 1993, when she went to court for cutting her husband’s penis off during a marital dispute. But despite decades of being used a Jay Leno-ish punchline, Lorena’s story looks far different in the era of #MeToo. Produced by Jordan Peele, this Amazon series tells that story through interviews with Lorena, her ex-husband John, and the police and hangers-on who watched at the time. How you feel after watching might surprise you.
Premiere Date: February 15
I Am The Night (TNT)
What’s It About: This is a fictionalized account of the true story of Fauna Hodel, who finds out when she’s a teenager that she was actually adopted and goes in search of her biological family. Who she finds is Dr. George Hodel, a Hollywood gynecologist and her grandfather—who also happened to be a person of immense interest to police decades earlier, due to his involvement in the still-unsolved, world-famous Black Dahlia murder of 1947. This show, which stars Chris Pine as the journalist who helps Fauna find out the truth, presents a genuinely compelling answer for what happened to Elizabeth Short, the actress found mutilated on the side of the road in Los Angeles.
Premiere Date: January 27
The Case Against Adnan Syed (HBO)
What’s It About: If you were one of the millions of people who listened to the first season of Serial, the podcast that brought podcasting to everyone, then you already know the story of Adnan Syed: The man convicted as a teenager and now serving life in prison for the murder of his high school sweetheart, Hae Min Lee. Because of discrepancies in the case that podcast host Sarah Koenig pointed out, Syed received a new trial. This HBO series is following it.
Premiere Date: March 10
The Act (Hulu)
What’s It About: A dramatized version (starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette) of the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who is currently serving a prison sentence for helping her boyfriend murder her mother. But it’s not as simple as all that: Blanchard’s mother, Dee Dee, had Munchhausen-by-proxy, and had raised Gypsy believing that she had all manner of physical and psychological ailments—she even lied to her about her age. It’s a harrowing, conflicting story that’s been given the miniseries treatment on Hulu.
Premiere Date: March 20
Delhi Crime (Netflix)
What’s It About: Based on the true story of the 2012 Nirbhaya case, this series follows a group of police in Delhi as they track down the perpetrators of a horrific gang rape. It’s a dramatic deep-dive into a case that received international attention and brought some of the central problems facing a modern India bubbling up to the surface.
Premiere Date: March 22
When They See Us (Netflix)
What’s It About: Ava Duvernay’s much-anticipated dramatization of the case of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers (all young people of color) who were convicted for a rape on nearly nonexistent evidence back in 1989. At the time, the case struck the nerve that ran through New York’s simmering race relations, supercharging the city and asking questions that, even three decades later, the country is still trying to answer.
Premiere Date: May 31
Interrogation (CBS All Access)
What’s It About: This one sounds really cool: Based on a crime that spanned 30 years, in which a young man is suspected of murdering his mother. Each episode involves an interrogation taken from actual case files, which means that the viewer understands more about the case each time—you become the detective. Peter Sarsgaard, David Strathairn, and Vincent D’Onofrio all star.
Premiere Date: TBD 2019
Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix)
What’s It About: The belovedly strange TV show of the '80s, '90s, and 2000s is getting its very own Netflix reboot! The creators of the original show have signed on, and though we don’t know what kind of stories will be profiled in each episode—definitely crimes, maybe some ghosts—we have a feeling it’ll be as addictive as the original. Fun fact about Unsolved Mysteries: It actually solved a lot of mysteries!
Premiere Date: TBD 2019 or 2020
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