Calling all true crime aficionados: A new year means a new roster of engrossing new documentaries and scripted true-crime series to watch. As new projects are announced, we can see trends forming for what true crime themes will follow. For 2022, it's all about scams, as the stories of crimes that caught our attention years ago (the Summer of Scam, anyone?) are fleshed out into series, laying out everything we now know about what went down. For everyone dying to hear the whole story of your favorite scammers, here are the 2022 true-crime documentaries and series to watch out for.
'The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman'
This three-part docuseries follows a conman who posed as a British spy and stole money from several victims. Though he was convicted in 2005, the crime comes full circle as a family in the present day starts fearing for their mom's safety.
'We Need to Talk About Cosby'
This is a must-watch documentary for anyone who grew up watching Cosby as "America's Dad" before his crimes came to light. Director W. Kamau Bell shows how the disgraced comedian's crimes were happening at every stage of his career, and gives his victims the space to tell their stories.
'Pam & Tommy'
This Emmy-nominated miniseries tells the story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's sextape, which was stolen by contractor Rand Gauthier and leaked on the early Internet. The show follows both Anderson and Gauthier's sides of the story, giving it a true-crime edge.
Based on the viral The Cut article, Inventing Anna dives into the story of Anna Delvey, a mysterious NYC socialite who scammed her way into a life of luxury. This scripted series from Shonda Rhimes will follow the journalistic investigation into Delvey (played by Ozark's Julia Garner) building the story of the leader of 2018's Summer of Scam.
This romance scam doc follows the victims of Shimon Hayut, a con man who wooed the women he met on Tinder into giving him hundreds of thousands of dollars, posing as a Russian oligarch called Simon Leviev. The team behind this juicy docs includes producers and director Felicity Morris from another Netflix hit, Don’t F*** With Cats.
The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos has already spawned several books and an HBO Max documentary. Now it's getting the scripted treatment, with Emmy winner Amanda Seyfried playing the tech CEO who claimed to revolutionize medical blood testing (and whose trial just ended in a guilty verdict).
'Perfect World: A Deadly Game'
One day in 2019, a group of gamers who've played together for years wake up to group chat messages of another friend confessing to three murders. A fourth is planned, and the friends rushed to find the murderer's identity before he can kill again. Based on a Vice article, this two-part docuseries lays out the real-life events of this quadruple homicide.
'Worst Roommate Ever'
This docuseries covers several stories of the worst roommates people have encountered, with the stories ranging from murder to fraud to squatting and intimidation. It's definitely worth the watch, whether you're fascinated by extreme fraud or just want to start learning about tenants' rights.
'Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.'
In 2015, celebrity restauranteur and "Queen of Vegan Cuisine" Sarma Melngailis disappeared after embezzling millions of dollars from her raw-food eatery Pure Food and Wine. The investigation, laid out by Vanity Fair, found that she had been conned by her husband, Anthony Strangis, who convinces her that he could expand her food empire, and "make her beloved dog immortal"(?!). This Netflix docu-series will lay out how the couple went from vegan dreamers to runaway fugitives.
Another series about a tech company's massive rise and fall is coming in March. This drama is based on Adam Neumann (Jared Leto) and his wife Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) and their love story at the center of WeWork, the co-working giant that went from a $47 billion valuation to bankruptcy in less than two months (money is fake, etc.).
'Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King'
2022 is the year Netflix dives into crypto scams with the story of Gerry Cotten's suspicious death. When his death was announced in 2018, Cotten controlled the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Canada at the time, and was the only person with access to $217 million worth of crypto, according to his widow. Crypto King follows a group of investors turned amateur detectives who think believe the couple ran away with the money.
'The Girl from Plainville'
In 2017, Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for proding her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to kill himself when she was 17 and he was 18, primarily over text messages. This new series, starring The Great's Elle Fanning as Carter, is based on the lead up to Roy's death and the trial after, showing how the real-world events affected everyone involved.
'Jimmy Saville: A British Horror Story'
Here's another docuseries about the rise and fall of a previously-beloved entertainer. The two-parter follows Saville, an English DJ, television, and radio personality who was discovered to have sexually abused hundreds of women and children during his time as one of Britian's biggest stars.
This three-part miniseries, which raises interesting questions about the national phenomenon of true crime storytelling, follows the Stayner family. In 1972, 7-year-old Steven Stayner was abducted and was held captive until he escaped and reunited with his family in 1980. Soon after, they were thrust into the spotlight as the subject of a hit TV limited series. Years later, once the family believed they had gotten through the media storm, one of Steven's siblings was suspected for a series of murders around Yosemite National Park.
The first modern-day true-crime docuseries was released in 2004, with The Staircase capturing the trial of Michael Peterson, a crime novelist from North Carolina who was accused of killing his wife Kathleen. Now, an all-star cast led by Colin Firth and Toni Collette will portray a fictionalization that spans from the weeks before Kathleen's death to the end of the media circus trial.
'Under the Banner of Heaven'
Adapted from Jon Krakauer's book, this miniseries depicts the gruesome 1984 killings of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her baby daughter, which shocked their Mormon town. As devout Detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield, playing a character created for the show) investigates the crime, he has to reckon with difficult questions about his own faith.
In this Watergate-era scripted series, Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell, the outspoken wife of Nixon's attorney general who spoke out against the president. When she discovers that her husband John Mitchell authorized the Watergate break-in, she goes public and becomes an enemy of the administration.
In 1978, Texas housewife Candy Montgomery was accused and eventually acquitted of killing her friend Betty Gore with an ax. This scripted miniseries depicts the women's friendship and fatal fallout, with Jessica Biel as Montgomery and Yellowjackets star Melanie Lynskey as Gore.
'Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets'
In 2020, members of the sub-Reddit WallStreetBets challenged the financial industry and created a social phenomenon by betting big on GameStop. This documentary tells the story of the stock-market event in plain language and speaks to both those who got rich off their trades and those who lost it all.
This Netflix doc tells the story of Dr. Donald Cline, a fertility doctor who illicitly inseminated dozens (and still counting) of women with his own sperm, and his victims' journey towards justice. Several of the women and their children lay out their discoveries of Cline's activities, and how their fight for justice has shifted their lives.
'Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey'
This four-part docuseries follows the rise and fall of Warren Jeffs, the leader and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), who ruled over the polygamist, patriarchal community with an iron fist. In the doc, former FLDS congregants and Jeffs' victims speak out on the now-incarcerated leader's mass abuse.
'Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies, and the Internet'
This six-part anthology series that covers crimes that come from people using digital misinformation and deception to its worst extremes, from swatting to conspiracy theorists to sextortion.
'The Girl in the Picture'
This doc starts at the end of a life and goes backwards, as the tragic story of Suzanne Sevakis' life is investigated in the wake of her untimely death. Sevakis (a.k.a. Sharon Marshall, a.k.a. Tonya Hughes) was abducted by Franklin Delano Floyd as a child, who raised her as his daughter and later married her.
'The Most Hated Man on the Internet'
This three-part docuseries follows the rise and fall of IsAnyoneUp.com, the site that brought revenge porn to the mainstream, and its unrepentant founder Hunter Moore. It also features the site's many victims and the people who worked to bring it down, including an anti-bullying activist and a devoted mom.
This lauded Apple TV+ miniseries depicts the true story of Jimmy Keene, a former athlete who's imprisoned to 10 years without parole for dealing cocaine. When he's convinced to obtain a confession from a alleged serial killer in exchange for getting out early, Keene has to navigate the dangers of a maximum-security prison while also gaining a killer's trust.
'Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist'
This installment of Netflix's sports doc series tells the story of the 2013 catfishing scandal involving pro football player Manti Te'o. While he was a college player at Notre Dame, Te'o gained sympathy from sports fans nationwide when his grandmother and his girlfriend died on the same night. When the public learned that Te'o's girlfriend wasn't real, there was a huge media backlash against him, with people theorizing that he was in on the hoax. Now, nearly a decade later, the doc explains Te'o's side of the story.
'The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist'
In 2008 and 2009, a group of LA teenagers burgled several homes of the era's biggest stars, including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Orlando Bloom. (Their exploits were even adapted into a 2013 movie directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson). This doc chronicles the true story, with interviews from some members of the group (Alexis Haines (née Neiers) and Nick Prugo), one of their victims (The Hills star Audrina Partridge) and Perez Hilton.
'Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story'
This Ryan Murphy-produced series fictionalizes the story of prolific serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, told from the points of view of his victims, his family members, and a suspicious neighbor. After the limited series' success (and despite criticism that it glamorized the killer's crimes), Netflix has commissioned two more seasons, turning Monster into an anthology about "other monstrous figures who have impacted society."
Netflix's continuation of the long-standing true crime series returned for a third volume this year, with stories including and the mysterious death of a female college-bound athlete, a mass UFO sighting, the disappearance of a college student after a party, and the drowning of a beloved school librarian and experienced boater.
'A Friend of the Family'
True crime fans who've seen the doc Abducted in Plain Sight are familiar with the story of Jan Broberg, who was kidnapped by a friend of her family several times over a period of years. This scripted miniseries depicts the true story, with The White Lotus star Jake Lacy playing Robert 'B' Berchtold. (Jan and her mother Mary Ann serve as producers.)
Based on the true saga out of Westfield, New Jersey, this fictional series follows a family of four as their move to a dream house is threatened by anonymous letters, sent from a "Watcher" who claims that the historic house needs "young blood." (Netflix also renewed this show for a season 2, despite its frustrating ending.)
This three-part series covers a notorious crime in the world of bodybuilding, when bodybuilder Sally McNeil fatally shot her husband, national bodybuilding champion Ray McNeil, on Valentine’s Day 1995. The shows features interviews with Sally, who alleged she was being choked at the time of the shooting and was a frequent victim of Ray's domestic abuse.
'Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste'
This doc follows the rise and fall of OneTaste, a sexual wellness brand that taught clients how to achieve "orgasmic meditation" and ran a commune based in San Francisco. The brand and its founder, Nicole Daedone, eventually faced FBI scrutiny for allegations of abuse against the women who dedicated their lives to the practice.
'I Am Vanessa Guillen'
This doc follows the story of Guillen, a 20-year-old soldier who went missing from the army base Fort Hood in 2020 and was later found murdered. In the film, we hear from her family as they recount their search for answers and fight for justice for sexual assault survivors in the military.
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
These Brushes Will Completely Change How You Apply Makeup
The Kevyn Aucoin The Duet Foundation Brush is our desert island pick.
By Samantha Holender
Channing Tatum Says He YouTubed How to Braid Daughter Everly's Hair When He Became a Single Dad
Two words: Girl. Dad.
By Iris Goldsztajn
'SATC' Star Evan Handler Says He'll "Welcome" Kim Cattrall's Return on His TV Set
She didn't see anyone while filming her cameo.
By Iris Goldsztajn