If you’re like me, one of your favorite genres on Netflix is mystery and/or crime. Sometimes it can be hard to separate out crime from horror (especially when it comes to say, serial killers), but I’ve done my best to come up with a list of the five best Netflix original crime shows as of early 2020 here.
Because I am sticking with Netflix originals, I am not featuring some of my favorites like Broadchurch (watch that one), but I think you’ll find a lot of good stuff on this list all the same. And if you have any suggestions of ones that I’ve missed, feel free to let me know. Content warning for some brutal crimes and assaults.
5. The Stranger
I’ve talked about this series before and there are aspects of it I don’t love, and yet I was engaged enough with the central mystery to stick with it through the end. The premise is an immediate hook, a beautiful woman a man has never seen before comes into his life and tells him a secret about his wife that blows up his marriage and family. The mysteries include who this woman is and what she wants, as well as what happened to the man’s wife once she disappears shortly after the secret is revealed. I have some issues with The Stranger, but I think a lot of people will like it.
4. Happy Valley
This is the most traditional “British cop solves crime” drama on this list, but it’s a good one. Happy Valley is probably the most similar to Broadchurch that I’ve come across in Netflix’s original offerings, which is obviously a very good thing in my book. It’s a breeze to get through, only 12 episodes across two seasons, and focuses on a middle-aged cop who investigates a kidnapping and tries to keep her grandchild safe from his father, a man who raped her daughter years ago and drove her to suicide. It’s harrowing, and has stayed with me a long while later.
You is one of Netflix’s most unusual success stories, a show that Netflix purchased from Lifetime after it tanked on the cable channel. The first season follows Joe, a man who gets obsessed with a girl and will do anything to get and keep her, and the second season, the one made when Netflix took over, gets into even wilder territory by introducing Love (The Haunting of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti) alongside Penn Badgley. Great performances and storylines all around here, and season 3 is already on the way.
This is one of two shows on the list based directly on real events, with Unbelievable being a miniseries about the tragic story of a young woman who was attacked and raped in her home, and then everyone refused to believe her as the predator kept seeking out other women, and the dots were not connected until years and years later. It’s not “thrilling” in the traditional sense, but rather a tragedy and important to watch.
Mindhunter may be the best show on this list, the brainchild of David Fincher with some powerful performances by a stellar cast, and yet it’s also one with an uncertain future with Fincher leaving and the cast being released from their contracts after season 2, so we don’t know if it’s ever coming back. The show follows the real-life formation of the FBI’s serial killer unit, and even the invention of the term “serial killer,” once the intricacies of the type of criminal were studied for the very first time. This is all based on real events and the two seasons feature the likes of famed killers like Manson and BTK, and the second season about the Atlanta Child Murders is as tense as it is ultimately frustrating, as real life tends to be. Mindhunters isn’t just one of the best crime shows on Netflix, it’s probably one of the best shows period. We don’t know if season 3 will ever happen, but the first two are worth watching all the same.