Perhaps because they have a captive audience, it feels like streaming services are dropping new docuseries faster than I can learn about them. Just in the past week I’ve stumbled upon two new finds, both exploring cases that were featured in popular podcasts over the past few years. That inspired me to come up with this list — since we have time on our hands, why not dive in deep and learn all you can about the cases that fascinate you? Starting with the two newest releases, these are my recommended pairings:
Atlanta Monster + Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children
The Atlanta Child Murders is an infuriating case that demands to be understood in great detail, with incredible care and attention paid to the victims and families who were ignored by law enforcement and denied justice. Mindhunter’s second season delved into some the nuance surrounding the case, shortly after Payne Lindsay’s podcast Atlanta Monster spent a whole season speaking in circles with Wayne Williams. Both cast doubt on Williams guilt, but neither offer much more than alternate theories about who murdered these children. Fortunately, this new documentary series from HBO promises to shed new light on this classic cold case. (Hint: the first episode is available free on YouTube here.)
Broken Harts + Thread of Deceit
Broken Harts is not a perfect podcast, but the hosts are sympathetic if not slightly ignorant. It takes them awhile to bring in the first-hand witnesses and experts who can actually shed light on the Hart family dynamic, but throughout the episodes they gain some insight into how the intersectionality of race, sexual orientation, class and other factors that impact the way a story should be told, and who ought to tell it. Perhaps this new release to Amazon Prime will do a better job?
Joe Exotic: Tiger King + Tiger King
You’ve already seen this documentary, right?? That was a joke, since everyone and their mom has seen it by now. If you’re craving a deeper dive, check out the second season of Over My Dead Body, titled Joe Exotic: Tiger King. This story was already nuts enough to merit a true crime entertainment take, but apparently we needed the visuals to really drive home how kooky the case truly is.
Cold + The Disappearance of Susan Cox Powell
One of the best podcasts released last year, Cold examines Powell’s life and disappearance in incredible depth and detail. I gushed about it in an earlier post, but the podcasts use of eerie audio recordings still haunts me. Powell’s case is also a powerful story of domestic violence, and the lengths that some abusers will go to in order to control their victims. I haven’t watched the Oxygen documentary yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how their storytelling measures up.
Man in the Window + The Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over
Both of these were produced after Joe DeAngelo was unmasked, so they could provide a post-arrest look at the crimes he committed and place important context around the clues (and red herrings) that agonized law enforcement and armchair sleuths for decades. Both also give most of their airtime to DeAngelo’s victims and their families, many of whom are now waiting to finally see justice served. The documentary also provides multiple opportunities to behold the beauty of Paul Holes. I don’t give this warning often, but be wary of listening or watching at night while you’re alone.
The Mysterious Mr. Epstein + Truth and Lies: Jeffery Epstein
Admittedly I haven’t followed this case, because at first I figured I already had the gist of it and I wasn’t sure that I could handle knowing much more. Ever since Surviving R. Kelly, I haven’t had much of an appetite for watching survivors describe their experiences of violence and abuse. Hulu keeps recommending this documentary to me, and I’m about ready to give in. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but it’s always the right time to unpack how powerful predators manipulate systems to protect themselves and victimize others with impunity.
Missing Maura Murray + The Disappearance of Maura Murray
MMM was my first true crime podcast obsession, before I discovered My Favorite Murder, and it’s one of the many classic cold cases I would love to see solved in my lifetime. The producers of that podcast also created a documentary, Finding Maura Murray, which I haven’t seen yet but plan to watch. Personally I really enjoyed Oxygen’s series, which sent a spunky investigator chick to actually interview Murray’s family and speak with people who previously refused to talk to other podcasters and journalists covering the case. By the end of the series, I actually felt like we gained some new insights into what happened to Maura, and that’s pretty high praise.
Up and Vanished x 2
Speaking of satisfying cases, my beloved Payne Lindsay’s first podcast was an incredible ride that started with a small town cold case and ended in a stunning confession and conviction, which listeners got to experience almost in real time. As always, Oxygen is there to provide a complementary doc special to retell the full story, and the series has evolved to cover other missing persons cases as well.
Undisclosed + The Case Against Adnan Syed
You’ve already listened to the first season of Serial, but have you listened to the first season of Undisclosed, in which Rabia Chaudry picks apart and analyzes Syed’s trial? I haven’t yet, but I did watch last year’s HBO series that purported to reveal new information about Hae’s murder. Check it out for yourself and see if you come away with a new take on the case that sparked the true crime boom.
In this surreal time of social distancing, I feel obligated to include that all of these features pair well with cheap wine and isolation, but only a few will keep you up at night.