It's safe to say that we’re in the golden age of true crime. With streamers consistently producing new documentaries to keep up with soaring demand, we’re seeing everything from content about serial killers and unsolved crimes to intriguing mysteries and tales of corporate corruption. No matter where you look, there’s true crime beckoning for viewers to unravel the truth.
We at The Lineup have parsed through all the documentaries and picked out some of the best of 2022.
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist
This crime was so infamous that Sophia Coppola adapted it into the film The Bling Ring. A group of celebrity-obsessed teenagers went on a sprint of home invasions in the Hollywood Hills back in 2008 and 2009. The homes they perused included that of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohans, and they spent their time stealing items and trying the celebrity’s life on for size. When all was said and done, they acquired upwards of $3 million in money and stolen goods.
It became a highly reported news story, catapulting the ringleaders Nick and Rachel into the spotlight, ironically turning them into celebrities of their own. This documentary series goes into depth about the nitty gritty that the film did not touch upon, complete with details from the criminals themselves.
The Tinder Swindler
This story is a testament to just how powerful technology is and how it can be abused. The Tinder Swindler shocked audiences when it debuted on Netflix. At the center of the documentary is a man that effectively swindles women on the dating app, conning them out of millions of dollars to ensure that he lives a life of luxury. All throughout the documentary, you’ll be shaking your head and screaming at the screen, shocked at just how far this man goes to manipulate his victims. The Tinder Swindler demonstrates how, in the wrong hands, the app can destroy lives.
Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist
True crime is a bastion for all things human manipulation and misery. An edition of the ongoing Untold series, The Girlfriend Wo Didn’t Exist is about the horrors of online dating and the promising young athlete whose life was destroyed because of it. Manti Te’o was a college football player for Notre Dame. When his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day, things became beyond shady. Te’o became embroiled in an intricate hoax involving a person that faked the online girlfriend’s entire identity, leading Te’o into a life-ruining controversy. It’s one of the most insane catfishing stories you’ve ever heard of. It’s a truly heartbreaking story.
A Friend of the Family
Though not quite true crime, this is a well-rendered portrayal of true events by showrunner Nick Antosca. A Friend of the Family is about the horrifying events that unfold for the Broberg family. At the center of the destruction is Robert Berchtold, the titular friend of the family that abuses the Broberg daughter, Jan, even going so far as abducting her not once but twice—once at the age of 12 and again at the age of 14.
There’s a whole lot of weird and odd that goes on in the family, and it only complicates things that Robert’s role as “friend” of the parents gets blurred when it’s clear that he’s sexually involved with both mother and father. A Friend of the Family accurately portrays the events, taking a true crime edge to its dramatization, and is a real highwater mark, expertly going to new places with the ingredients of real-world terror.
Although this is another series that's not exactly a documentary, it’s based on one of those true crime stories that make you say the words “you can’t make that shit up.” The Netflix tale is based on an article by Reeves Wiedeman about a house that is sequentially terrorized by someone that calls themselves “the watcher.” A family from New York City move to the suburbs of New Jersey into a house that could only be described as perfect. It’s in a safe neighborhood and has access to a good school for their kids. It’s the kind of thing worth commuting in and out of the city for, until they start receiving exceedingly creepy voyeuristic letters in the mail from a stranger that seems to be watching their every detail.
The series devolves into some truly horrifying moments, and is easily one of the most talked about true crime stories of the year. It makes you never want to open the blinds or curtains ever again.