I have such a varied taste in what I watch on the box and Netflix is heaven for someone like me. I can flit from series to series, food to comedy, easy watching to educational. One thing that I love watching (and since researching my viewing habits, I’ve realised that the majority of my choices are based on) crime stories, whether they be true life or fiction.
I have a weird fascination with prisons. Maybe it’s because of my primary school trip to a police station and those 2 minutes that we were locked in a cell but whatever the reason and in no particular order (although lets start with one of my favourites) I’m here to admit that I, Hannah Spannah, love to watch what goes on behind the slammed and locked doors.
#1. Orange Is the New Black (OISTNB).
Where do I begin? This series is incredible. I was addicted from episode one and I binged, binged, binged. I just couldn’t get enough. I instantly got behind the lead character, Piper Chapman and her baptism of fire as she enters the complex world behind bars.
The show is based in a minimum security prison and follows Piper as she is plucked from her rather sedate upper middle-class lifestyle, after her rather shady past catches up with her.
OITNB is actually based on a true story, the memoir of the same name, by Piper Kerman, but has obviously been embellished in order to fill over 60 hours worth of content.
Series one – five are all available on Netflix and cover approximately a year of her initial 15 month sentence. Whether extra time has been added on to her sentence for the various things that happen, is unsure, but another 2 seasons are in the making with filming for season 6 having just finished in February 2018.
Be warned – the show features strong language, lots of sex and nudity, has great characters and a great plot. You will become addicted.
#2. Natascha Kampusch: The Whole Story.
I saw this title pop up on my ‘suggested for you’ section and immediately recognised the face of Natascha Kampusch, the girl who had been kidnapped at 10yrs old from the streets of Vienna, bundled into the back of a van and kept in a purpose built, sound proof underground room with no windows. It is narrated mostly by Natascha herself and she addresses the criticism she received by the press, for her ability to forgive her captor.
#3. Making a Murderer.
Along with Orange Is The New Black, Making a Murderer was one of the Netflix Original programs that I had really wanted to watch. I saw all the buzz on social media when this was originally released in 2015 but never really comprehended what the show was about.
Watching this saw me open mouthed and aghast. The story is unbelievable.
In 1985, Steven Avery was accused of sexually assaulting a local woman, Penny Beerntsen despite him having an alibi and there being no physical evidence. After 18 years, DNA evidence comes to light that secures his release from prison.
This 10 part series was filmed over 10 years and begins with footage of Steven arriving home after his conviction was overturned. What happens next is truly shocking.
#4. Casting JonBenét.
This is totally different to any other crime documentary that I’ve ever watched before. That’s because it’s not a crime documentary. If you start watching it, knowing this, you are more likely to enjoy it.
I say this because the reviews, most of them anyway, are terrible. But don’t let that put you off.
If you don’t remember or are too young to remember, JonBenét Ramsey was a little 6yr old beauty pageant queen who was sadly found murdered in her home on Boxing Day (December 26th) 1996. I was 17 years old and remember the media circus that began and continued for months. Initially, suspicion fell on the parents but later, DNA evidence cleared them.
However, no one has been charged with JonBenét’s murder and how many people think ‘There’s no smoke without fire’?
That’s what this documentary centres around – the thoughts and opinions of the local community and how the murder, ensuing rumours and attention has shaped parents and children, 20 years after the tragedy.
#5. The Confession Tapes.
I’m currently on episode 4 of 7, that tell 6 different stories (episodes 1 and 2 are about the same crime) of people who confessed to killing (mostly) loved ones, were sentenced to prison but later pleaded their innocence, saying that they were coerced into confessing.
How could anyone confess to killing someone when they didn’t do it? That’s the question asked here. You watch tapes of the interrogations, hear the confessions as people, often wearily and confused, admit their guilt.
The confessions tapes is an eye opening and disturbing look at the American justice system. You see the side of the prosecutors, the defence and then make your own opinion.
Are they guilty of the crimes they are serving time for?
#6. Inside Russia’s Toughest Prisons.
This documentary is a first ever look inside three prisons across Russia – a top security facility that houses terrorists, cannibals and murderers, a Siberian prison camp where temperatures are often 50 degree’s below zero and then a look inside Russia’s oldest prison.
It’s quite an eye opener – the prisoners talk about their crimes which includes a cannibal talking about how he cooked his victim and other’s talking about the murders that they have committed. The way in which the prisoners are moved around inside one of them is crazy!
At times, it feels a little like the camera crew are being shown the best image and view, by the highest ranking staff – a bit of ‘look at our prison’s, they are not as bad as you may have heard’ as a quick google of Russian prison conditions tells of them being likened to torture chambers with regular beatings from the guards to be expected.
No matter what, the conditions are brutal and unlike others that I have seen in similar programs.
#7. Breaking Bad.
Breaking Bad is one that I’ve not watched yet but is definitely on my list. It was so popular when it first aired, loads of my friends were talking about it and so when I happened upon it in my Netflix ‘suggested for you’ area, I decided to start watching.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get past the synopsis which told me of a man, Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who learns that he is terminally ill with lung cancer, and tries to earn more money so that his family will be financially safe after his death. His idea, to make a lot of money quickly, is to start a Meth Lab and he quickly finds himself deeply embroiled in the dangers of the criminal underworld.
My Mum was fighting lung cancer when I tried to start the series and has sadly since died and so although I really want to watch Breaking Bad, I’m not sure that I could manage the back story just yet. As soon as I read the words lung cancer, I clicked off and chose something else to distract myself but don’t let that put you off.
There are 5 seasons of Breaking Bad and 62 episodes, so it’s perfect for if you’re looking for a series to really get into and binge. In 2013 it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most critically acclaimed show of all time so if you’ve not watched it yet, now’s the time.
#8. Louis Theroux: LA stories: Season 1: Among The Sex Offenders.
Once upon a time, Louis Theroux used to be everywhere. I tuned in weekly, to so many of his documentaries that I think I overdosed on his investigative style and stopped choosing to watch. However I have watched a few more recently, since getting my Netflix subscription.
One that I watched with interest was this one – Among The Sex Offenders.
Louis spent time in California and met sex offenders who had served their time in prison but were subject to strict living conditions. Past offenders who were on parole, were not allowed to live within a certain distance of a place where children gather such as a playground, a school etc – which then meant that the individual’s who tried to live ‘lawfully’, were gathered into certain area’s with limited landlords and choices.
Louis didn’t just meet offenders who were living in the hostel run by ‘Prentice’, the main subject of the program, he also spent time with a parole officer who’s job it is to try to keep track of the many homeless sex offenders – homeless, mainly due to the residential restrictions and questions how effective the laws are when so many offenders are hard to keep track of.
I talk in past tense as this series – LA Stories was filmed in 2013 / 2014 and I’m not aware as to whether any changes to these certain laws have been made, nether-less, it doesn’t change this interesting look into a group of people, living on the fringes of society. Does a sex offender ever deserve a second chance?
#9. The End Of The F***ing World.
I loved this comedy / drama series and hated that it had to end. The characters pull you in and not just the main two, the stories that run in the background also make you want to binge the series in one go, just to find out what happens to everyone.
The story is based around Alyssa and James – 17 year old teens – neither of whom fit in at school, who forge an awkward friendship and decide to leave their lives behind and take a road trip. What Alyssa doesn’t know, is that James is convinced that he is a psychopath and has just decided to take the step from killing animals to killing humans. She wants to escape her home life and he’s looking for an opportunity to kill her.
The End Of The F***ing world is F***ing excellent in my opinion.
So,if crime is your thing, I hope I’ve suggested something new for you to watch and that you enjoy it.
I’ll be covering another genre very soon so keep your eyes peeled.