I can’t always handle horror on TV. Between the unexpected gore it'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. (You can check out our list of the best true crime podcasts here, if you so choose.)
2020 has seen, and continues to see, a lot of spooky, riveting, can’t-believe-it’s-real true crime shows coming out in 2020. Here's a list of the best of the year so far—and the ones we can’t wait to check out.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (Netflix)
What's It About? The three-part docuseries tracks the rise, fall, and eventual death by suicide of NFL football player Aaron Hernandez after he was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
Premiere Date: January 15
Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer (Amazon Prime)
What's It About: In this docuseries, Ted Bundy's long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall, her daughter, Molly, and other survivors break their silence about the infamous serial killer for the first time.
Premiere Date:? January 31
What's It About? The inside story of the years-long conspiracy to defraud McDonald's by rigging the fast food chain's popular Monopoly game promotion.
Premiere Date: February 3
The Pharmacist (Netflix)
What's It About? Louisiana pharmacist Dan Schneider's quest to find his son's killer, which ultimately sets him on a fight against a "pill mill" doctor contributing to the opiate crisis in his town.
Premiere Date: February 5
Interrogation (CBS All Access)
What’s It About? It's 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: February 6
Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix)
What's It About? The docuseries focuses on Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who has dedicated more than 30 years to investigating the assassination of Malcolm X.
Premiere Date: February 7
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (Netflix)
What's It About? The six-part miniseries details the 2013 abuse and eventual murder of Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy from Palmdale, California.
Premiere Date: February 26
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness (Netflix)
What's It About? Joe Exotic, the eccentric owner of the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, who courted controversy for years thanks to his breeding and treatment of the big cats in his care. His high-profile rivalry with Big Cat Rescue CEO and advocate Carole Baskin eventually escalated to the point that Exotic was convicted in a federal murder-for-hire case for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill Baskin.
Premiere Date: March 20
How to Fix a Drug Scandal (Netflix)
What's It About? The docuseries focuses on crime drug lab chemists Sonja Farak and Annie Dookhan, who tampered with evidence, leading to tens of thousands of drug counts being dismissed.
Premiere Date: April 1
Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (HBO)
What's It About? This docuseries attempts to makes sense of an unsolved case involving the killings of more than 30 Black children from 1079 to 1981 in Atlanta.
Premiere Date: April 5
The Innocence Files (Netflix)
What's It About? Based on the work of the Innocence Project, each episode of this series focuses on a different wrongful conviction case.
Premiere Date: April 15
Trial by Media (Netflix)
What's It About? Each episode of the series covers a famous court case and dissects how media coverage impacted the outcome of the case.
Premiere Date: May 11
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Netflix)
What's It About? Based on the 2016 book of the same name by James Patterson, the four-part series tells the stories of Epstein's survivors and sheds light on how he used his power and influence to commit his crimes.
Premiere Date: May 27
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (USA)
What's It About? Dirty John became an anthology series in 2020 with a second season focused on the story of Betty Broderick, a woman who was convicted of murdering her ex-husband and his second wife in 1989.
Premiere Date: June 2
I'll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO)
What's It About? True crime writer Michelle McNamara's quest to uncover the identity of the Golden State Killer.
Premiere Date: June 28
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: July 1
Fear City: New York vs The Mafia (Netflix)
What's It About? The docuseries follows the FBI's investigation into and subsequent takedown of New York City's Five Families: the Gambino, Colombo, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Genovese crime families.
Premiere Date: July 22
The Vow (HBO)
What's It About? The nine-part series digs deep into alleged sex cult NXIVM and its leader Keith Raniere.
Premiere Date: August 23
I Am a Killer: Released (Netflix)
What's It About? The series follows 53-year-old Dale Wayne Sigler who was convicted of murder in 1991, as he adjusts to life outside of prison after being paroled.
Premiere Date: August 28