News

Got a Crime-Drama Habit? Try These 6 Series Based on True Events

by | November 3, 2016 | Comments

Who Killed JonBenét? (Lifetime)

If you’re a fan of true-crime drama, Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie Who Killed JonBenét?, premiering November 5, is one of several TV outings this season about the tragic death of the child pageant queen.

It’s also part of a resurgence in the genre. In fact, 2016 has been the year of the crime docudrama series. And 2017 is shaping up just as nicely.

Emmys-sweeping FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is greatly to thank for that. While real-life crime stories have long held allure for Hollywood creatives, never before has an entry in the genre ascended to the level of prestige achieved by the decorated miniseries about the trial of former football hero O.J. Simpson for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman.

American Crime Story’s success has paved the way for a number of projects now in the primetime pipeline, including a Fox 21 TV adaptation of award-winning podcast “Serial”; a nonfiction anthology scripted series from Dick Wolf, Law & Order: True Crime; and TNT’s Finding Chandra, which follows 24-year-old Chandra Levy’s 2001 disappearance and death.

Want to get in on the true-crime hype? Here are six notable series inspired by real crimes, real people, and real consequences. While the bulk of these programs take sizable creative liberties, each is a gripping account of the stories behind the headlines of today and yesteryear.


1. American Crime Story 93% (FX)

People-V-OJ-Simpson3

The debut season of American Crime Story reimagines one of the best known court cases in American history and peels back its many layers. Think you know Marcia Clark, Robert Shapiro, and Christopher Darden — or even O.J. Simpson? Think again. This 10-episode season lays the surprises on thick and does justice to the trial in a way the 1995 television event never could. Season 1 starred Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. VanceJohn Travolta, and more. Next year’s season 2 offering will take a bite of something bigger: Hurricane Katrina.


2. Aquarius 77% (NBC)

Aquarius: Grey Damon and David Duchovny (NBC)

Though it received mixed reviews, this David Duchovny–starrer tracking the early cult-leader makings of murderer Charles Manson and the LAPD detective hot on his trail packs a punch with kills and thrills.


3. Orange Is the New Black 90% (Netflix)

orange

Showrunner Jenji Kohan’s Netflix series is a case study on how to ground a series in fact while expanding it for the sake of entertainment. Provocative and boundary-pushing, the series based on Piper Kerman’s bestselling memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, boasts one of the most colorful and beloved ensembles on TV with the rich and unexpected narrative turns to match.


4. Boardwalk Empire 92% (HBO)

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Steve Buscemi took home the 2011 best actor Golden Globe for his bone-deep portrayal of real-life crooked Atlantic City politician Enoch L. Johnson (here named Enoch “Nucky” Thompson). His performance in this Prohibition-era crime noir is reason enough to revisit it.


5. The Secret (ITV)

James Nesbitt in The Secret (ITV)

Here’s one you may not have heard of: Based on journalist Deric Henderson’s Let This Be Our Secret about an affair that led to the 1991 murders of Lesley Howell and Constable Trevor Buchanan in Northern Ireland, this U.K. miniseries stars Irish actor James Nesbitt as Colin Howell, the dentist-turned-murderer. Genevieve O’Reilly stars as his lover and accomplice, Hazel Buchanan.


6. Narcos 89% (Netflix)

Like Boardwalk Empire, Narcos takes a closer look at a formidable and feared crime figure — in this case, Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar (played by Wagner Moura). Season 2 just premiered to rave reviews in September and is available for binging.

Tag Cloud

Superheroe sequel National Geographic thriller Rock Tumblr 2018 Comedy 2016 FOX Red Carpet true crime spinoff LGBT Horror Stephen King Nat Geo ABC Captain marvel SXSW USA President Spectrum Originals Dark Horse Comics TV Land DGA History Set visit MTV DirecTV Polls and Games FXX Spike nature Netflix festivals technology Fantasy Rocketman See It Skip It series RT21 strong female leads theme song YouTube Premium psychological thriller Star Wars medical drama Britbox NBC 24 frames docudrama finale Music NYCC PaleyFest jamie lee curtis IFC 2019 Trophy Talk Masterpiece period drama television cats PBS crime natural history TCA cars Lucasfilm toy story E3 BET sports Box Office Extras Film Festival Trailer diversity Epix justice league tv talk vampires what to watch aliens comic Amazon Reality Competition zombies Starz IFC Films Tarantino Character Guide WarnerMedia LGBTQ Sundance Now Mudbound Interview VH1 mutant political drama Mary Tyler Moore comiccon Year in Review Crackle San Diego Comic-Con Certified Fresh Pirates Kids & Family dc Rocky Creative Arts Emmys spider-man Martial Arts Sundance romance Columbia Pictures binge Pet Sematary Pop historical drama Emmys Rom-Com hist Vudu Tomatazos X-Men TCM The Witch Food Network TLC The CW Marathons adventure VICE WGN Chernobyl Infographic Sneak Peek TV talk show Star Trek disaster Best and Worst anthology movies Podcast cooking sitcom serial killer Amazon Prime Winter TV YA dceu First Look adaptation unscripted Heroines dragons casting Apple New York Comic Con crime drama Pixar crossover Adult Swim Schedule Western anime The Arrangement Chilling Adventures of Sabrina quibi Universal Paramount Spring TV zombie MSNBC Superheroes Animation DC streaming service based on movie Emmy Nominations Acorn TV ITV transformers Logo HBO Max CBS All Access Bravo Election Fall TV science fiction Ovation AMC Action Lifetime Brie Larson CBS Summer Biopics animated A&E mockumentary Mary poppins cinemax golden globes Hulu Amazon Prime Video Holidays Awards Tour Ghostbusters Oscars 20th Century Fox Ellie Kemper boxoffice singing competition social media revenge CW Seed TIFF Sony Pictures Sci-Fi teaser BBC America SDCC Disney blaxploitation Opinion game show DC Comics Cartoon Network Black Mirror dramedy cops Comics on TV witnail Watching Series Lionsgate crime thriller APB American Society of Cinematographers GLAAD Video Games Syfy politics YouTube Red elevated horror Binge Guide streaming Super Bowl Grammys CNN ratings CMT Walt Disney Pictures Photos TruTV award winner El Rey MCU composers Valentine's Day Awards biography police drama BBC harry potter Writers Guild of America Comic Book travel Mindy Kaling Warner Bros. Premiere Dates RT History Elton John doctor who GoT Shudder Showtime Calendar USA Network Anna Paquin Toys spy thriller Nominations Cosplay Christmas Nickelodeon Mary Poppins Returns Quiz Freeform 007 Shondaland Teen TNT Trivia psycho Song of Ice and Fire Winners Mystery SundanceTV Comedy Central Drama book cults miniseries Disney streaming service 45 Countdown 2017 FX Country GIFs war Thanksgiving Fox News ESPN TCA 2017 E! Women's History Month supernatural Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt zero dark thirty facebook Family Musical space Marvel ABC Family Esquire 21st Century Fox ghosts richard e. Grant discovery Pride Month robots Paramount Network Film kids OWN green book DC Universe children's TV Reality TBS Disney Channel 2015 HBO Musicals Cannes