NIGHT STALKER AND THE NEW WAVE OF NETFLIX TRUE CRIME
By Kirsten Howard
True crime has been big business at Netflix since Making a Murderer.
In 2015, Netflix released Making a Murderer. It became the first true crime docuseries on the streaming service to make waves, both culturally and politically.
It followed the story of Steven Avery, who had wrongfully served 18 years in prison for a crime, but was later convicted of a murder. His nephew Brendan Dassey was also sentenced as an accessory.
Making a Murderer was so widely viewed that it created considerable public upset and controversy.
Realising that it had a hit on its hands, Netflix started to invest in similar projects. In the years that followed, most of its true crime content created a significant buzz.
Don't F**k With Cats
The likes of Evil Genius, The Staircase, Don't F**k With Cats and Wild Wild Country kept viewers hooked.
Netflix also ploughed serious cash into drama series based on notable true crime cases.
These were especially successful in 2019, with several of the streaming giant’s offerings garnering major awards.
Wild Wild Country
Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed miniseries When They See Us explored the 1989 Central Park jogger case and won a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Limited Series.
While Unbelievable, starring Toni Collette, focused on Washington and Colorado’s 2008–2011 serial rape cases. It was nominated both at the Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy Awards.
When more people suddenly had time to binge TV in the early months of 2020, Netflix accidentally created another cultural phenomenon.
Joe Exotic in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a docuseries about imprisoned zookeeper Joe Exotic, was reportedly watched by around 34 million people in its first ten days of release.
The Ripper, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, and a revival of Unsolved Mysteries arrived later in the year, giving true crime fans fresh content for their watch lists.
This year, the streaming service has debuted a new true crime series called Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer.
Night Stalker looks back at the horrific crimes of Richard Ramirez. It’s not been as well received as Netflix’s other docuseries, with some critics calling it tabloid-esque and exploitative.
But with the success of its other true crime shows and an audience of captivated subscribers, Netflix is likely to keep the genre high on its agenda.