All hail Netflix for being our saviour in such unprecedented times. The ‘crime’ genre on Netflix comprises some of the best and most thrilling shows all around the world and is rightfully one of the most searched and popular genres. From serial killers to gruesome murders to psychological foreplay; the shows have them all. While Netflix has taken up quite a few shows that aired on BBC and more such channels previously, it has also come up with its own set of originals that are equally mind-boggling and engrossing.
While an inherent interest in crime series and films may lead people to question the viewers’ morals, whether they enjoy and encourage such human depravity, the simple answer would be, they watch such series to get high on adrenaline. Blood-curdling and the gut-wrenching unfurling of on-screen violence scares and appals the viewers. They get an insurmountable adrenaline hit.
True crime documentaries and podcasts are amazing, but nothing captures the grisliness of violence like Netflix shows. With every episode, the tension heightens, the murkiness increases and the cloud of mystery thickens. The viewers are left nibbling on their nails, trying to comprehend the situation. It is an unbelievably thrilling experience, to sit through the on-screen police procedurals and understand the functioning of a criminal mind.
To appease the thirst of fellow crime series enthusiasts, we have put together a list containing the 10 best crime series on Netflix which you may or may not have watched. Sip on a glass of wine and enjoy!
The 10 best crime series on Netflix:
10. Hannibal (Bryan Fuller, 2013-2015)
Graphic and poetic, this show focuses on the development of an inappropriate and dependant relationship between the Cheapsake Ripper Hannibal Lecter and gifted criminal profiler Will Graham. The latter aids the FBI to track down a vicious cannibalistic serial killer before suspecting Dr Lecter to have been involved in this. Their intimacy complicates the situation and the plot gets more chilling with the seasons’ progress.
Although we are used to seeing good old Anthony Hopkins on-screen as the dangerous cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen adds a charismatic twist to the character as the enigmatic forensic psychiatrist and culinary connoisseur. The psychological tease accentuated by delving deep into Graham and Lecter’s psyche adds to the general moodiness of the show. Lecter falls in love with Graham which makes the show unique and interesting. Besides being inspired by David Cronenberg, Dario Argento and Tony Scott, the show creator Bryan Fuller was quoted saying, “ When I sat down to the script, I was very consciously saying, ‘What would David Lynch do with a Hannibal Lecter character? What sort of strange, unexpected places would he take this world?’ I’m a great admirer of his work and his aesthetic and his meticulous sound design. Those were all components that I felt very strongly needed to be part of our Hannibal Lecter story. Between Lynch and Kubrick, there’s a lot of inspiration.”
“Whenever feasible, one should always try to eat the rude.”
9. Alias Grace (Mary Harron, 2017)
“Gone mad is what they say, and sometimes Run mad, as if mad is a different direction, like west; as if mad is a different house you could step into, or a separate country entirely.”
Adapted from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the miniseries revolves around the life of Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant who is convicted of murder. The story begins in 19th century Canada and unravels in a litany of flashbacks.
A hard-hitting and poignant social commentary, the script is poetic and uncompromising. Sarah Gadon delivers a marvellous performance as the mistreated and abused woman hushed by society. One of the most underrated yet best period dramas on Netflix, it is a scorching commentary on the condition of women in the mid-1800s, especially the trials and tribulations Grace herself had to face. The constant interrogations coupled with the debates regarding pardoning a criminal on grounds of insanity have been handled with poise and finesse. The ambiguous ending might leave the viewers frustrated, hankering for answers, but this magnificent, heartbreaking series is a must-watch for all.
“There are many dangerous things that may take place in a bed. It’s where we are born, our first peril in life. It’s where women give birth, which is often their last. And it’s where the act takes place between men and women, sir. Some call it love, others despair, or merely an indignity they must suffer through.”
8. Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (Mark Lewis, 2019)
With an engaging pace and engrossing storyline, this crime documentary is a disturbing tale, based in Canada, of a twisted criminal, Luka Magnotta, who posted a gruesome video of suffocating kittens which sparked rage all over the internet. He was pursued by the Internet vigilantes which turned into a “risky manhunt”; Luka later ends up brutally murdering Jun Li to mock the investigators. From animal abuse to homicide, the documentary dabbles in the most jarring issues.
The Internet users are shaken up by the grisly videos Luka posted online and are invested in hunting him down. Their deductive reasoning is commendable. The documentary is sure to make the audience’s stomachs churn in rage. They will surely be cheering for these Internet sleuths from the sidelines for having helped hunt down a sick, abominable killer like Luka. Well-documented, it induces rage, sympathy and terror, while warning the viewers to be safe and observant. It is an intriguing watch and one of the most terrifying documentaries in the true crime genre.
7. Delhi Crime (Richie Mehta, 2019)
The first-ever Indian show to win an Emmy, Delhi Crime is based on the horrific and brutal 2012 gang rape case in South Delhi. The series follows the aftermath of the rape case where Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Vartika Chaturvedi is assigned the case to nab the beastly culprits responsible for the assault and subsequent murder of the woman.
In 2012, the Delhi gang-rape case shocked and frightened the entire nation. People were enraged; protests broke out all over the country. The unspeakable monstrosity exhibited by the men who raped Nirbhaya on the moving bus before engaging in several other atrocious deeds appalled the nation. One could not help but question “How many India’s daughters do we have to see?” Richie Mehta’s series focuses on the chilling investigation. The grim atmosphere and the overall pervasive disgust looms large. Gut-wrenching and vile, the show reportedly “emotionally drained” and ‘consumed” Shefali Shah, who portrayed DCP Chaturvedi. Minus the graphic detailing and imagery, the show is based on the exhaustive investigation process; it may trigger viewers and cautionary viewing is mandatory.
6. Ozark (Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams, 2017-)
When financial advisor Martin “Marty” Byrde’s money-laundering scheme with an infamous drug cartel goes wrong, he is forced to make amends by setting up an even bigger operation in Lake Ozarks region, Missouri. To protect his family, Marty and the rest of the Byrdes move to the quiet Osage Beach. Soon they get embroiled with the local criminals such as the Langmores and the Snells, as well as the Kansas City Mafia.
Masterfully crafted and appropriately paced, Ozark boasts of stellar performances by Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and the rest of the ensemble. The characters are flawed and presented in their crudest forms; Marty’s quiet, gloomy and compromising nature is juxtaposed to his wife, Wendy’s ruthless, ambitious and go-getter nature. The immersive setting of the series set a moody tone to the storyline. Thrilling and intense, Ozark plunges deep into the world of mafia families and drug cartels and is focused on how far a family can go to stay together and protect each other’s integrity while being hounded by adversaries.
“The bite of the apple was not the original sin. Lucifer’s fall was.”
5. Broadchurch (Chris Chibnall, 2013-2017)
Set over three seasons, this series’ first season features the grisly murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer on a Dorset beach which causes a huge uproar in the town, starting thorough police investigation. Taciturn Alec Hardy is assigned the task and must work with the begrudging and ambitious Ellie Miller to uncover the truth. As the family grieves, the show moves forward with new twists and turns setting the premise for season 2 where the court proceedings take place. The third season features the iconic detective duo investigating the rape of Trish Winterman, trying to uncover the truth.
The atmospheric melancholy of the sleepy town set by the tear-jerker pilot of the series reflects its ominous progression. Olivia Colman is fantastic, as is David Tennant. The story is not simply about mindless, gruesome murders taking place; it pays equal importance to the grieving boy’s family as well, where they try to cope with his death after being hounded with the undesired media frenzy. The secrets wrapped in the town’s amicable nature forms an intense and emotionally charged whodunit. The cinematography and background score are revolutionary; the rugged beauty of Dorset is juxtaposed with the gloom and blur of the interrogation scenes. Calm, reflective yet powerful this show is intense and unsettling and slowly takes over you in ways inexplicable by mere words.
“Murder gnaws at the soul. Whoever did it will reveal themselves, sooner or later. No killer behaves normally over time.”
4. Narcos (Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, 2015-2017)
The series follows the boom of the cocaine trade in Colombia and takes a close look at the dangerous lives of the drug kingpins, especially Pablo Escobar, the infamously notorious drug cartel leader. It follows Escobar’s success due to the production and distribution of cocaine as well as his gripping interactions with opposition parties, drug lords and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials. The figures are all in a conflict that transcends politics, morality, ethics, legality and more. The show also focuses on the fall of Escobar and the subsequent efforts by the DEA to disrupt the rise of the notorious Cali cartel.
Addictive and unnerving, the characters in Narcos are brilliant and charming but fail to evoke sympathy. They are cunning and vile, especially Pablo Escobar who will go to any lengths to appease his ambitious hunger for success. Grisly and indefensible, the intense and interesting characters as well as the brilliant recounting of recent history makes Narcos a show worth binging on.
“In the United States, the Mafia makes witnesses disappear so they can’t testify in court. In Colombia, Pablo Escobar made the whole court disappear.”
3. Sherlock (Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, 2010-)
Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular detective crime fiction Sherlock Holmes, the series stays fairly faithful while creating an arguably interesting premise. The eponymous protagonist is the brilliant and quirky detective, a self-proclaimed “high-functioning sociopath” Sherlock Holmes, who solves mysteries in modern-day London with his friend and war veteran John Watson, who keeps this wacko grounded. The series feature various crimes as written by Doyle with a recurrent mention of Holmes’ arch-nemesis Jim Moriarty.
Set in contemporary times, Sherlock is enjoyable and gripping. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have electrifying on-screen chemistry as the iconic duo. Friendship is a key element in the series, and while Holmes is infuriating, he is adorable; Watson keeps him grounded. The character development is splendid, especially the dimension added to Watson’s character by the creators deserve special mention. Gatiss defends this move by saying, “ “Watson is not an idiot, although it’s true that Conan Doyle always took the piss out of him. … But only an idiot would surround himself with idiots.” It was a demanding role for Cumberbatch as well who admitted to having faced quite a few challenges, “There’s a great charge you get from playing him, because of the volume of words in your head and the speed of thought—you really have to make your connections incredibly fast. He is one step ahead of the audience and anyone around him with normal intellect. They can’t quite fathom where his leaps are taking him.” As Tom Sutcliffe said in The Independent, “Sherlock is a triumph, witty and knowing, without ever undercutting the flair and dazzle of the original. It understands that Holmes isn’t really about the plot but about charisma … Flagrantly unfaithful to the original in some respects, Sherlock is wonderfully loyal to it in every way that matters.”
“Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did I wouldn’t be one of them.”
2. Peaky Blinders (Steven Knight, 2013-)
British crime dramas and documentaries have boasted of sheer class, brilliant police procedurals and epic whodunits. However, one must always resort to American shows for a riveting and nail-biting narrative from the perspective of a criminal (for eg: The Sopranos). However, Steven Knight’s 2013 series, Peaky Blinders, a period piece set in between the Wars, changed the course of British crime dramas. Moody and dark, Peaky Blinders chronicles the escapades of Black Country gang, infamous for their notoriety and tendency to stash dangerous razor blades in their peaked caps. It follows the character of the handsome and eloquent, Thomas Shelby (played by the wonderful Cillian Murphy), who is ambitious, cunning and shrewd.
With its riveting and fast-paced tale of cold-blooded violence and gangsters, Peaky Blinders is set in post-first world war Birmingham and manages to capture viewers’ attention indefinitely. Captivating and gasp-inducing, the series seasons are renewed after consecutive prolonged hiatus which makes fans impatient for their iconic Thomas-fucking-Shelby and his electrifying presence on-screen.
“Intelligence is a very valuable thing, innit, my friend? And usually, it comes far too fucking late.”
1. Mindhunter (Joe Penhall, 2017)
Mindhunter’s riveting storyline delves into the criminal psyche to explore the wondrous minds of serial killers, and their motivation. FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Trench investigate grizzly murders while trying to uncover the secrets of the criminal mind. Dangerous criminals are interviewed in long, gruelling sessions to help the men understand their thought process, motives and compulsions- the knowledge of which can be used to prevent further crimes in future. The horrors of the human mind, the darkness it manifests within itself as well as the twisted contemplations that reside within it are enough to trouble the audience. The actors are exceptional- Cameron Britton as Edmund is perhaps the most interesting- cold-blooded and dignified, his words unsettle the agents- their tension and anxiety send the audience into panic and frenzy. The scene where Charles Manson is interrogated is tense and ominous as he mocks the agents pompously.
The two seasons are grappling with wonderful direction, excellent visuals and stellar performances. Gruesome and vile, it is quite depressing as well. Psychological horror stumps the bravest of minds- Mindhunter is a show that crawls under one’s skin and settles in a minute at a time, terrifying them. The series lacks violence and gore; the criminal psyche is complex enough to trigger a psychological turmoil in the viewers’ minds. The raunchy scenes add to the oomph factor; the private lives of the agents humanise them. This crime thriller is meticulously designed for the period it is set in, and elaborates on how the behavioural science unit was conceived in detail.
“How do we get ahead of crazy if we don’t know how crazy thinks?”