30 of the best true crime documentaries to unleash your inner detective

These true crime documentaries are stranger than fiction

Making a Murderer (Netflix, 2015)

30 of the best true crime documentaries to unleash your inner detective 1

Filmed over a 10-year period, Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime.

The first season chronicles Avery’s 1985 arrest and wrongful conviction of sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen, his subsequent exoneration and release in 2003, the civil lawsuit he filed against Manitowoc County, his 2005 arrest, and his ensuing trial and conviction in 2007 for the murder of Teresa Halbach. It also depicts the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was accused and convicted as an accessory in the murder of Halbach. Dassey’s subplot focuses on the accusations of coercion and attorney ineptitude.

The second season explores the aftermath of both Avery’s and Dassey’s convictions, focusing on their respective families. It also relates the investigation and findings of Avery’s new attorney Kathleen Zellner, which corroborate the thesis of Avery’s innocence and him being framed for the murder of Halbach. Additionally, the show’s sophomore run presents Dassey’s legal team’s efforts in arguing in court that his confession was coerced by prosecutors and his constitutional rights were violated.

Making a Murderer won four Emmys in 2016, including Outstanding Documentary, Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming, and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program.