TV picks: True crime

TV picks: True crime

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Thursday, 16th April 2020
The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Tiger King (Credit: BBC and Netflix)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Tiger King (Credit: BBC and Netflix)

With real life scary enough right now, it is the perfect time to lose yourself in some unbelievable true crime series.

Here are our top picks.


The Central Park Five 

Amazon Prime

This documentary examines the case of The Central Park Five, which was recently turned into a Netflix drama miniseries called When They See Us.

The shocking and heartbreaking documentary tells the story of a 28-year-old white female jogger, Trisha Meili, who was beaten, raped and left for dead in New York’s Central Park in 1989.

Five young black and Latino boys aged 14-16 years old were accused and convicted of the crime.

Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Anton McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were subjected to seven hours of interrogation without their parents, leading to a coerced confession.

Despite the DNA at the scene matching none of the five boys, they were sentenced to between six and 13 years in prison.

After the five had served years in prison, convicted murder and serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to committing the crime and the charges of the five were vacated.

Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, the documentary hears from The Central Park Five and their families in order to tell the harrowing story.


Making A Murderer


Making A Murderer has captured the attention of millions and became a cultural phenomenon when it was released in 2015, shining a probing light on the American justice system and unveiling the hidden intricacies of a murder investigation.

It tells the story of Steven Avery, a man who knows what it is to fall foul of the law and is the main focus of the documentary.

In 1985, Avery was arrested and sentenced to 32 years in prison for sexually assaulting and attacking Penny Bernstein. However, after serving 18 years for the crime a DNA test proved that Avery had been wrongfully accused.

It wasn’t long until in 2005, Avery was once again arrested, this time for the murder, sexual assault and mutilation of photographer Teresa Halbach.

Each episode revealed a new element of the case, throwing doubt on Avery’s innocence and guilt.

However, in 2007 Avery was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole and his 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also convicted for playing a role in the murder.

The series struck such a nerve with people that over 500,000 people signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon Avery and Dassey.


The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

BBC iPlayer

Two gunshots cut through the air on July 15th 1997, when serial killer Andrew Cunanan shot 50-year-old Italian designer Gianni Versace.

The shooting took place on the steps of Versace’s Florida home and prior to the shooting, Cunanan was already a suspect in four murder cases in three states and had gone into hiding in Miami.

The story that led up to the tragic shooting is explored in Ryan Murphy’s second series of the American Crime Story anthology.

The series starts with the murder of Versace (Édgar Ramírez), before tracing back chronologically to look at Cunanan’s (Darren Criss) defining life moments that turned him into a cold-blooded serial killer.  

Penélope Cruz also stars as Donatella Versace and Ricky Martin plays Versace’s partner Antonio D’Amico.


Tiger King


The current social distancing obsession-watch is Tiger King, exploring the dark world of owning big cats in America.

The Netflix sensation has turned Joe Exotic into an internet celebrity and has split the world into two camps; those who think Carole Baskin fed her ex-husband to tigers and those who believe she’s just obsessed with big cats.

Initially the documentary was an investigation into big cat ownership in the US, with the main focus being on Joe Schreibvogel, aka Joe Exotic, who ran a private zoo in Oklahoma filled with tigers, lions, bears and alligators.

The series starts with the shocking fact that there are more privately-owned tigers in the US than tigers left in the wild.

The pierced, gun loving, bleached mullet, attention seeking Exotic lives a life that needs to be seen to believed.

His number one adversary is Carole Baskin the owner and Big Cat Rescue and animal rights activist.

What at first appears to be a harmless feud played out across social media, leads to the involvement of the FBI when Exotic is arrested for hiring a hitman to kill Baskin.

Despite everything, the documentary is guaranteed to be one of the strangest things of 2020.


The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst

Sky Go

The documentary mini-series tells the story of New York real estate heir Robert Durst, who is at the centre of three murders spanning four decades.

Durst was implicated in the unsolved disappearance of his then wife Kathie in 1982, the death of writer Susan Berman in 2000 and the death of Durst’s neighbour Morris Black in 2001.

Durst maintains his innocence for the disappearance of Kathie and murder of Berman, but testified that he had dismembered and disposed of Black's body after she died accidently in a struggle over a gun, he was, however, acquitted of this crime.

Directed by Andrew Jarecki, Durst spoke with Jarecki over several years despite having never spoken to journalists previously, but he admired Jarecki’s fictional film All Good Things inspired by Durst’s biography.

An unexpected twist comes at the end of the documentary when Durst is unaware his microphone is still recording...

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With real life scary enough right now, it is the perfect time to lose yourself in some unbelievable true crime series.