Hooray! We've finally reached summer break! All that hard work put into school has finally paid off and many can sit back and relax. With a lot of time being opened up, people need something to watch (I went through the same thing when I graduated college). So, if you need to fulfill your true crime needs, I've got you covered with some fascinating documentaries!
1) 'Allen v. Farrow' (HBO Max)
Directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War), this 4-part docuseries details the marriage of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. Additionally, viewers get more details on the intolerable relationship Allen had with his adopted daughters, Dylan and (now-wife) Soon-Yi. Despite being one of the most well-known and decorated film directors ever, Woody Allen is perhaps better known for marrying his adopted stepdaughter, Soon-Yi. This series provides a lot of graphic details about Allen's marriage to Farrow, his relationship with Dylan and his marriage to Soon-Yi. Although this series is uncomfortable to watch, I learned more about who Woody Allen is as a person and how despicable his actions were towards his family.
2) 'Screwball' (Netflix)
Billy Corben directs this documentary containing a wild and almost unbelievable story about Tony Bosch and the MLB doping scandal. As a Baseball fan, I thought that this doc was both awesome and also kind of hilarious. Personally, I'm not a fan of reenactments in documentaries. However, the way that Billy Corben chose to use actors in 'Screwball' was great and I believe it added to the overall value of his documentary. Personally, I think this is a must-see program for fans of both the sports and true crime genres alike.
3) 'John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise' (Peacock)
The legend of John Wayne Gacy is an infamous one for people like me who grew up in Illinois. It was hard to imagine that I could learn anything new about Gacy that I hadn't already seen or read, but I did by watching this docuseries, directed by Rod Blackhurst, Alexa Danner, Elizabeth Fischer and Tracy Ullman. I was pleasantly surprised by this series for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn't know Peacock offered true crime programming options and 2) the level of detail it included. I will give recurring guest and FTF legend, Mark Piselli (@MarkPiselli13), credit for bringing this documentary to my attention. If you have Peacock, please watch this!
4) 'Untouchable' (Hulu)
I have been DYING for someone to make a documentary about this story for the longest time and director Ursula Macfarlane absolutely knocked it out of the park. This documentary details the news story that inspired the #MeToo movement: Harvey Weinstein and the sexual abuse allegations levied against him. This documentary does an outstanding job contextualizing the story by detailing the background of Weinstein and how he came into power. In addition, you get interviews from former colleagues and accusers. Personally, I think everyone should watch this documentary based on the notoriety of the case alone.
5) 'Roll Red Roll' (Netflix)
Directed by Nancy Schwartzman, this documentary details the highly publicized 2012 Steubenville High School rape case. This program is great because it gives the viewer a sense of just how horrible this case was and just how large of an impact it had on the community. Additionally, we're shown various text messages, media interviews and social media posts that add context and understanding as to how the crimes happened in real time. Personally, I believe this is a great documentary to watch, because it's yet another visual example of the existence of rape culture in our society currently.
6) 'Goodnight, Sugar Babe: The Killing of Vera Jo Reigle' (Amazon Prime Video)
I'm going to be honest: I have a lot to say about this documentary, but I don't know how to put all those thoughts into words. Have you ever seen an accident happen and you just can't look away? Have you ever found something funny at first, only for the humor to gradually leave your face because you realize it's no longer funny? Have you ever sat in silence and said, "What the F?!?" to yourself? Well, this documentary embodies and pretty much SCREAMS all of those concepts. Directed by J. David Miles, this documentary details the horrible, unspeakable and despicable murder of Vera Jo Reigle. I will warn you, this documentary is rather "low budget," but your jaw will be on the floor by the end of it. Wrapping your head around this program is very difficult because the facts of this case are so outrageous. By the end, I was speechless. My fiancé and I drive past the town where this murder took place whenever we travel to Tennessee and we both agreed we'll never look at it quite the same ever again. You may not want to watch this doc, but if I had to, so do you.
7) 'Murder Among the Mormons' (Netflix)
For me, anytime a documentary features a crime involving religion, I tend to gravitate towards it. In this 3-part docuseries directed by Joel Goodman, we follow the story of Mark Hofmann — one of the most notorious forgers in history. When I watched this series, I was downright shocked, as we're provided with certain details of Mark Hofmann's crimes that will leave you speechless and have your jaw dropping. If you're like me and are interested in documentaries that feature different belief systems and religions, this is a must see.
8) 'The Crime of the Century' (HBO Max)
Directed by Alex Gibney, this two-part docuseries might be one of my favorites ever, right up there with 'Lorena' by Jordan Peele. This documentary points out the crimes of Purdue Pharma and their contributions to the opioid epidemic. I feel like this documentary is important to watch because we get a glimpse into the lives of the millions of people that the opioid epidemic has affected. Many of those impacted share their stories on how opioids have negatively impacted their lives. The crimes committed by Purdue Pharma has had a massive impact on our country, which is why I believe this program is worth your time.
9) 'Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children' (HBO Max)
Directed by Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre and Joshua Bennett, this 5-part docuseries details the largely unknown case of the Atlanta Child Murders. In the first installment of my 'American Predators' series, I mentioned this case and its overall mysterious nature. Although I provided a brief overview of the case during that episode, I didn't even approach the amount of detail that went into this case. If you happened to listen to that episode and were curious to learn more, I encourage you to watch this series.
10) 'At The Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal' (HBO Max)
If you enjoyed Netflix's Athlete A, which was their documentary on this case, I think that you'll enjoy this program as well. Directed by Erin Lee Carr, this documentary features the sexual abuse crimes of Larry Nassar and the overall abuse and exploitation of the USA Gymnastics. I thoroughly enjoyed both documentaries, but this one in particular features more about Larry Nassar and his crimes, whereas Athlete A describes the scandal itself. The one interesting thing about this documentary is, it features an interview with the Judge who presided over this case, who explains the emotions she felt while she heard the evidence and read the letter Nassar sent to her. I highly encourage you to watch both if you haven't already.
I hope you enjoyed this list and will now take the time to watch any (or several!) of these featured documentaries, as they each tell some extremely compelling stories. As always, if you have any recommendations for me, send them my way!
- Gabby (@__littlegabs)