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 84% (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

christmas movies First Look Hollywood Foreign Press Association Sony Pictures spider-verse razzies prank Drama biopic italian Teen archives Country Endgame obituary dreamworks RT History romantic comedy king kong 20th Century Fox Amazon BBC One The Walking Dead 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Mary Tyler Moore Showtime Horror Food Network Turner Classic Movies festival wonder woman rotten movies we love Mary Poppins Returns Nickelodeon Winter TV award winner DGA comics Musicals emmy awards TruTV Best Actress National Geographic spy thriller Pet Sematary FOX Holiday streaming HBO 99% Best Actor summer TV preview doctor who Shondaland trophy popular die hard PlayStation discovery crime SXSW theme song Disney Channel Best and Worst asian-american worst Classic Film Reality Freeform rt archives Netflix E! IFC Oscar blockbuster boxoffice comic book movie 2017 Apple TV+ hist Watching Series Tarantino Funimation true crime The Arrangement feel good lord of the rings Holidays cancelled TV series The Purge Brie Larson mockumentary video on demand new york Film Festival BBC America boxing video biography Hear Us Out Shudder a nightmare on elm street Crunchyroll war YouTube Premium marvel cinematic universe Pop Emmy Nominations CNN Schedule black comedy Star Wars broadcast slashers Spring TV halloween tv Academy Awards NBA Neflix 2015 classics superhero MSNBC Year in Review TV movies hidden camera disaster Biopics basketball 24 frames Amazon Prime Video casting talk show 71st Emmy Awards Black History Month Calendar YA reviews The CW comedies APB Grammys WarnerMedia adventure Pop TV marvel comics RT21 Travel Channel cops zombies adaptation historical drama rt labs Britbox Acorn TV rotten versus scary hollywood E3 french posters Rom-Com 90s Sundance Now children's TV binge japan Warner Bros. cats mcc richard e. Grant revenge 4/20 First Reviews Fall TV action-comedy deadpool mission: impossible SXSW 2022 stop motion 2019 Ovation indie harry potter FX on Hulu TV Heroines know your critic TCA Winter 2020 kids Countdown natural history mob elevated horror Stephen King target debate documentaries pirates of the caribbean crossover legend breaking bad Black Mirror concert Universal Pictures indiana jones NYCC A&E Trivia south america Epix remakes Nat Geo Kids & Family DC streaming service Podcast Lionsgate Pride Month unscripted A24 ABC Signature Amazon Prime political drama Certified Fresh TCA 2017 2020 Elton John critics Bravo cars stoner Winners kaiju Mindy Kaling Tokyo Olympics comic books independent 21st Century Fox USA ABC Family Martial Arts 72 Emmy Awards sopranos spain child's play Netflix Christmas movies Rocky batman aliens blockbusters New York Comic Con book USA Network nbcuniversal toronto adenture WGN cooking scorecard Masterpiece Dark Horse Comics Women's History Month Oscars teaser FX Musical Spectrum Originals black DirecTV comic book movies Box Office Fargo Christmas Song of Ice and Fire psychological thriller franchise satire VH1 all-time dc PBS History live event telelvision nature Awards Tour rt labs critics edition aapi 93rd Oscars Discovery Channel interviews The Witch TNT spanish 73rd Emmy Awards transformers period drama IMDb TV superman Exclusive Video dark Awards cinemax Disney streaming service genre heist movie ghosts Comic-Con@Home 2021 trailers Syfy Cosplay BET robots Anna Paquin Captain marvel Rocketman comiccon Marvel Television Amazon Studios Infographic dramedy South by Southwest Film Festival Prime Video stand-up comedy Emmys Spike facebook 79th Golden Globes Awards social media olympics rom-coms slasher crime drama fresh ID Starz Character Guide Election ITV Best Director thriller australia singing competition Mystery Ghostbusters diversity vampires animated Hallmark Christmas movies Marvel Video Games Crackle technology science fiction based on movie TLC 2021 The Academy gangster Image Comics Writers Guild of America Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hispanic Tags: Comedy Family sequels 2018 Ellie Kemper Comedy Instagram Live travel Opinion nfl LGBT jurassic park Polls and Games sitcom Super Bowl leaderboard 2016 golden globe awards laika Music TV Land Focus Features 45 X-Men VOD composers critic resources Cannes toy story live action spider-man game of thrones royal family ESPN CMT docuseries TIFF summer preview Creative Arts Emmys Sci-Fi scary movies Chernobyl BAFTA Comedy Central best BBC Thanksgiving saw Trophy Talk zero dark thirty Universal ViacomCBS dexter Reality Competition Disney Toys Arrowverse President Esquire Animation monster movies Adult Swim Paramount Network Trailer 1990s streaming movies television worst movies Star Trek Hallmark sequel TBS Nominations GIFs streamig Pirates new star wars movies tv talk Television Academy quibi Avengers GoT Lifetime Fox News japanese AMC Fox Searchlight Rock miniseries chucky twilight what to watch ABC CBS screenings MTV Columbia Pictures godzilla TCA Awards series American Society of Cinematographers high school young adult werewolf OWN HFPA book adaptation scene in color Paramount Best Picture universal monsters criterion international documentary Valentine's Day crime thriller FXX Hulu hispanic heritage month space name the review IFC Films Peacock movie Legendary dragons YouTube Red reboot SundanceTV Comics on TV CBS All Access Cartoon Network Mudbound DC Comics cancelled television police drama DC Universe free movies Apple TV Plus parents Set visit VICE Tubi cancelled TV shows halloween Superheroe MGM sports spinoff canceled Extras Disney Plus CW Seed Turner ratings Logo supernatural canceled TV shows women anime jamie lee curtis 007 Pixar movies MCU HBO Go green book Pacific Islander football politics Tomatazos films TCM kong golden globes Paramount Plus AMC Plus psycho Binge Guide cults james bond sag awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina obi wan Mary poppins game show festivals The Walt Disney Company venice cartoon GLAAD BET Awards vs. witnail joker blaxploitation Sundance Summer medical drama docudrama Paramount Pictures HBO Max summer TV dogs latino anthology comic screen actors guild Action Comic Book TCA fast and furious SDCC Tumblr Broadway Baby Yoda Apple YouTube Premiere Dates San Diego Comic-Con Vudu Sundance TV TV One strong female leads Red Carpet romance justice league Fantasy Wes Anderson foreign suspense Film zombie Lucasfilm Marathons Disney+ Disney Plus Sneak Peek Interview See It Skip It cancelled Quiz OneApp directors spanish language Walt Disney Pictures NBC finale king arthur serial killer PaleyFest El Rey new zealand Western Alien art house Lifetime Christmas movies news dceu Marvel Studios mutant LGBTQ Television Critics Association Superheroes 94th Oscars renewed TV shows TV renewals Photos