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7 True Crime Shows/Documentaries to Watch on Netflix Instead of Studying

Are those exams hitting you like a ton of bricks? Take a break and watch some of the most chilling and terrifying shows on Netflix. The catch? They are all based on or about true events. So, snuggle up and lock your doors. Here are the seven true crimes shows you should watch on Netflix instead of studying.


This harrowing story is based on a young woman’s account dealing with the police and detectives after a harrowing sexual assault. Kaitlyn Dever from “Booksmart” stars as Marie Adler and gives a raw and emotional performance that stays with you. Alder goes to the police after a violating break-in, but her story is not believed, and she is eventually charged with a misdemeanor for lying to the authorities. Get caught up in this gripping tragedy that highlights the systemic problem of women being discredited as victims.

“Unbelievable” deals with sensitive topics such as rape, so please be advised.

“American Murder: The Family Next Door”

This series is as fascinating as it is horrifying. When a mother and her two children go missing in Frederick, Colorado, police fear a robbery gone wrong. Little did they know, they were looking for the killer in the wrong place. Any psychology majors out there who think they might be skilled at being able to read people’s behavior, prepare to be humbled. What at first seems to be a tragic missing person case turns out to be something far more deviant. You never really know someone. Even though this is a documentary, it deserved a place on this list for the plot twists alone.

“Casting Jon Benet”

Most cases do not become a pop-culture obsession like the death of JonBenét Ramsey did. This documentary focuses on the media attention that surrounded the heartbreaking death of a 6-year-old beauty pageant queen. Was it the parents, a family friend or something far worse? The killer has not been caught to this day, though there are many players in this case that make great suspects. Give this film a watch and decide who you think did it.

“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”

Zac Efron as a serial killer? Say no more. Get ready for love triangles, murder and the haunting fact that this film is based on the life of real-time serial killer Ted Bundy. This film follows Bundy’s life of crime and how he eventually was caught. For all you “Criminal Minds” junkies out there, Zac Efron plays one mean unsub. Lily Collins also appears in this film as Ted Bundy’s girlfriend, along with Jim Parsons (“Big Bang Theory) starring as Florida’s prosecuting attorney.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt for Another Serial Killer”

For those more interested in the criminal justice system and how killers are brought to justice, this documentary series is just for you. Serial killer Richard Ramirez terrorized the city of Los Angeles for two years in the 1980s before finally being brought to justice. The story is told from the point of view of the people and communities impacted by his crimes, as well as the journalists who covered it. With a different take than most true-crime series, “Night Stalker” gives the victims a whole new light while humanizing the law enforcement involved in Ramirez’s capture.

Manhunt: Unabomber

Ever wondered how the FBI tracked down a Harvard graduate turned-domestic terrorist? Look no further. This series is a somewhat fictionalized, but mostly true account, of how the notorious Ted Kaczynski was apprehended and brought to justice. When exploding packages start turning up all over the country, the FBI must catch the killer before more people are hurt or killed. Get caught up in the narrative of the deadliest serial bomber in American history.

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

If you haven’t heard about the infamous O.J. Simpson case, what rock are you hiding under? The last show on our list is probably the most awarded and well-written, with 22 Primetime Emmy Award Nominations and a Golden Globe Award. Although countless books, films and documentaries have been made about the O.J. Simpson case, this show does one of the best jobs of telling the famed story. Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer and John Travolta are a few of the A-list actors who were brought in to help create “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” and the acting in this series goes above and beyond. Yes, Ross from “Friends” stars in this show, but the character Schwimmer plays is the farthest thing from Monica’s nerdy older brother.

Give this show a watch and get addicted to a story heard a thousand times over.

So, settle in for a chilling night of deceit, murder and lies and get lost in the dark world of true crime. Bake some cookies, grab a comfy blanket and invite some friends over. Just remember to do something fun and happy afterward and keep in mind that there are no monsters under the bed (that we know of).

Sophia is a Psychology and Criminology major at the Unversity of Florida. She loves to read, go on hikes, eat with friends and meet new people. Sophia is excited to be writing for Her Campus this year and cannot wait to share her passion and interests with the community!
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