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Image / Living / Culture

4 underrated true crime series worth adding to your must-watch lists


by Jennifer McShane
19th Jun 2021

There's just something about true crime. In recent times, the spate of documentaries released has made for the most interesting water-cooler banter since Twin Peaks. We're continually fascinated by the crimes, the did-they-or-didn't-they, the grit and startled at how much can be revealed, sometimes decades after these crimes have been committed.

That is the power of true crime. It does more than entertain; it seeks answers, asks questions that many wish to keep hidden. If you’re stuck for something to stream, the below may have gone under your radar.

The Act

The tragic and disturbing story of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose is based on a 2016 investigative piece written by Buzzfeed, which details Gypsy Rose, stricken by cancer and muscular dystrophy and a host of other long-term conditions, always supposedly tirelessly devoted to her daughter.

But after Dee Dee’s death, it was revealed that Gypsy was a perfectly healthy 24-year-old, and had never suffered from any of the medical problems her mother had spoken about. It is thought that Dee Dee had Munchausen by proxy, a rare syndrome in which a person, usually a primary caretaker, fakes or induces physical and psychological symptoms in another person. The events that lead up to this reveal are fascinating.

Lorena

This Amazon Prime docuseries investigates the headline-grabbing case of the marriage of John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt in the early nineties. In a case that gripped the US, 24-year-old Lorena Bobbitt, 24, severed her 26-year-old husband John Wayne’s penis with a kitchen knife as he slept and was later arrested for malicious wounding.

The four-part series features a brand-new interview with Bobbitt, who accused Wayne of systemic domestic and emotional abuse, and a large part of her defence drew on the idea that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Wayne denied the allegations). The case highlights how this trial was one of the first in the American legal system to really call into question what constitutes marital abuse.

Wild Wild Country

Cults remain a fascination when it comes to true crime and this one is gripping in its story. This documentary tells the tale of a guru who started to gain devoted followers before building a utopian city in the Oregon desert that eventually led to the first bioterror attack in the United States. The entire thing is wilder than you can imagine – but it actually happened.

You will be glued to your seats.

Murder Mountain 

This true-crime series is set in Humboldt County, California, where marijuana is the dominant local industry, and dozens of people have gone missing in the last few years – more than any other county in California.

Murder Mountain focuses on the disappearance of 29-year-old Garret Rodriguez in 2013 and details another mother looking to find her missing daughter. The investigation into his whereabouts, the producers said, exposes “a wild, lawless place” where many venture – and some never return.  The series shows Humboldt’s marijuana farms, both legal and illegal, and the farmers and dealers associated with the industry. It’s excellent and is one of those slipped-under-the-radar Netflix gems.

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