I’ll admit it; I’m a bit of a crime junkie. Maybe it’s because I find the entire process of solving crimes so intriguing, or maybe it’s because I love seeing the villains get their just desserts, but whatever the reason, I always end up watching more crime documentaries than any other type of show. Of course, I don’t just watch them – I read the occasional article or two, too, especially when there’s a new one to discover. It’s kind of like going to the movies more than once, but without having to pay and wait in line to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster; I can read all the essential plot points before I go in to see the movie. It’s pretty handy when you have a busy schedule like mine.
One of my favorite documentaries is Broad City, the hilarious and heartwarming tale of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, two young women living in New York City who decide to pursue a life of crime. It’s not your typical crime documentary in that it doesn’t focus on the grim and gritty work of criminal investigation. Instead, it focuses on the lighter side of crime: its humor and its characters. There’s not a single scene in the whole docu-series that isn’t either laugh-out-loud funny or at least touching. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it absolutely fascinating.
I started thinking about Broad City after I saw a Reddit comment about how much fans loved it. That got me wondering: what other famous documentaries might be worth watching if you’re a fan of crime? Since I’d never heard of so many of them, I did a little bit of research and came up with a shortlist of five documentaries that are must-sees for anyone who enjoys watching true crime stories. Let’s take a look.
It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest political documentaries of all time when it came out in 2013. The title alone should hint to you what you’re in for: Michael Moore takes on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. If you want to know where the phrase ‘fake news’ came from, this is where you have to start. Moore presents a fairly balanced view of the Iraq war, criticizing both the Bush administration and the U.S. media for their poor coverage of the conflict and the subsequent occupation. While the film isn’t perfect (it leaves a lot of information out), it’s an incredible piece of work and surely worth the watch for anyone who’s interested in history.
The Battle Of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers is another famous documentary that covers a historical event. This time, it’s the three-year battle between colonial forces and the Algerian National Liberation Front. The film covers the conflict from both sides – the French and the FLN alike – as they struggle for control of Algeria. If you’re not familiar, the Battle of Algiers is considered one of the turning points in the Algerian War, which was a significant event in the struggle for decolonization. You might recognize some of the prominent faces in the film: Che Guevara, Malcolm X, and Fidel Castro, just to name a few. This is one important document to witness, particularly given the historical significance of the events that it covers. If you were living in the area at the time of the shooting, you’d have to see this one as well.
The Black Panthers
The Black Panthers are best known for their self-defense program, which inspired the creation of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces unit, the Green Berets. Although there were quite a few black panthers in the party at the time, most people know them for their work in the black community and their efforts to improve conditions for blacks in general. This was a very important historical figure for the African-American community at the time, and continues to be relevant to this day. If you’re interested in discovering more about the black panthers, their story is definitely one to tell. The film does a great job of presenting both their incredible successes and failures during a time when they were making tremendous strides in the civil rights movement. If you’re a true crime fan, you’ll find this one fascinating, as well.
The Thin Blue Line
This is one of the earlier true crime documentaries, released in 1988. It follows a group of death penalty investigators as they travel around the country seeking to solve capital murder cases. Although not as well-known now as it was in the ’80s, when it came out, The Thin Blue Line was an incredible success, winning multiple awards and establishing Errol Morris as a prominent American documentary filmmaker. The film covers a lot of ground, examining the ways in which the American justice system fails to serve the interests of marginalized communities. The creators of this show go to great lengths to investigate their cases and expose the flaws in the judicial system. If you’re a true crime fan, you’ll find this one incredible, as well.
Jackie Robinson is best known for becoming the first African-American to play major league baseball. He broke the color barrier in 1946 when he was signed to a contract by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played an incredible game that year and went on to appear in three World Series, winning one. This is the person responsible for breaking the color barrier in professional sports and for helping to create an environment where African-Americans could thrive as professional athletes. If you’re a true crime fan, you have to see this one as well. It covers the years between his Major League Baseball career and his untimely death from cancer in 1972. This is an important figure in the history of African-Americans in sports and is definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of his.
With these five documentaries, you’ll have witnessed an incredible array of fascinating true crime stories. If you want to continue your education, don’t forget about those all-time greats; Charles Manson, The Boston Strangler, and Richard Simmons, among others. Of course, one of the best things about these five documentaries is that they’re available to stream on Netflix, so you can binge-watch them whenever you like. This way, you’ll never be bored – I mean, other than when you go to sleep, of course.