Crime Documentaries
It's easy to get overwhelmed when there's so many great options to choose from. (Illustration by Francesca Mahaney, Pratt Institute)
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Crime Documentaries

Out of all the streaming services, this one absolutely has the best selection of crime docs.

There’s no better way to pass a dark and stormy summer evening than by watching a good crime documentary. That’s what I’ve been doing lately, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Every streaming service seems to have their own selection of crime documentaries these days; Netflix has its own never-ending list, as do Amazon and Hulu. Take your pick, curl up on the couch and start binging.

In my opinion, Hulu has some of the best documentaries to offer. Make sure to subscribe to this streaming service if you haven’t already; it’s worth it! (And there’s a student discount.) You can also get the added bonus of HBO, but you’ll have to pay a bit more, and it’s totally optional.

From “The Act” to “The Murder of Laci Peterson,” you will be in for a ride. These true crime documentaries will be sure to hit you with all sorts of emotions; it’s a popular genre, and Hulu has a lot of options to choose from. It’s up to you whether you just want to watch one, or go through all of them in one sitting, but just as a warning: As someone who has viewed “The Murder of Laci Peterson,” it will make you feel all sorts of feelings, and not all of them are positive. However, this is probably my favorite one, and I still recommend it to everybody.

“The Act” brought more new subscribers to the platform than any other Hulu original in its first month alone. It tells the interesting story of a mother and daughter, who are unlike any other mother-daughter duo you’ve seen (but I won’t give it all away). Let’s just say that there’s a reason so many people were drawn to it. Audiences have had mixed reactions about the ending, but you’ll just have to watch for yourself to find out where you stand.

Hulu also has “The Cheshire Murders,” which recounts a triple homicide that occurred in 2007; it’s a gruesome but intriguing story to watch unfold before your very eyes. Another documentary of note is “Capturing the Friedmans,” which involves the case of a father and son who were accused of child molestation.

There are many more on the streaming site, and way too many to name, but thankfully, Hulu has you covered. It’s a lot quicker to go to the top left corner of Hulu’s website, click on browse and pull up the list of genres that are available on the site. Once you click on the option for crime documentaries, a wide variety of them will show up, giving you plenty to choose from.

Killing for Love” is another one to check out; it has its surprising twists and shocking moments, so be ready for anything to come your way. Another must-watch this summer is “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,” which takes its viewers all the way back to the year 1996 and shows how the crimes went down.

Crime documentaries are interesting to watch, but they are not for everybody, because they show content that might make some viewers uncomfortable. It’s important to know what to expect from these kinds of documentaries, and to make sure that you are okay with viewing what is being shown. I recommend that if you want to watch a crime documentary for the very first time, don’t watch it by yourself; have a friend watch with you, so you’re not as freaked out by the end of it.

All these crime documentaries are enticing and attention-grabbing, but there has to be a reason why they are viewed so much. Surely, we as an audience don’t enjoy seeing the story of someone getting killed, or being trapped in an awful situation, so there has to be a better reason that explains why so many people find these crime documentaries so enjoyable, right?

An article by Inside Edition puts it nicely: “We love that thrill factor.” The article goes on in more depth to say why we are drawn to crime documentaries. “One psychiatrist says viewers even find pleasure in this feeling of security, thankful that it’s someone else’s body in the bag.” And while that sounds pretty awful, it is something to think about, because there is some truth to it. The article also explains that there is usually some sort of justice at the end of these documentaries, where the killer is exposed and punished, and that’s another way the genre captures viewers.

It’s true — people watch these documentaries for the thrill factor, and you get taken through a dark journey, watching the awful story unfold, and you don’t always know what is going to happen, but you still get to feel safe in your own home.

The mystery also adds to it; you never know what to expect until it happens, and sometimes it’s obvious who did it, while other times it takes some time to figure out. Even if it’s instantly obvious who was behind it all, it’s all about finding out the why, as well. Don’t expect to have all your questions answered, though. Sometimes, there are no answers, and you’re left to wonder on your own why someone would do what they did.

The streaming service has a lot of options to choose from, so if it turns out that crime documentaries aren’t your thing, give something else a try. Or maybe watch them with somebody else if they’re too scary; either way, just remember that you’re not obligated to watch this genre if you really don’t want to.

But if you are all about crime documentaries, get comfy, because Hulu is a treasure trove — and remember to subscribe if you haven’t yet!

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