This is the final series of my documentary recommendations! If you’ve seen Jinx and Making a Murderer then these documentaries might be your next fix!
I am Innocent (series – Netflix) Would Recommend
This New Zealand crime docuseries is 6 episodes following 6 different cases ranging from murders, juvenile criminals, and family cases. Based on the title you can assume that all criminals telling their story are innocent and have been wrongly convicted. You find out the details of the crime, where things went wrong, and how things were later resolved for the unjustly convicted criminals. After each episode I wanted to go tell my friends and family about this insane, unjust, and true story.
The Staircase (series – Netflix) – Would Not Recommend
I put this documentary as do not recommend because I DNF but I’ve heard from good sources that I should try it again so I’ll give you that same advice. The story follows widow Michael Peterson through his murder trial. The victim? Kathleen Peterson, his wife. You see all the preparation his legal team does, discovering new details and secrets along the way. The documentary is titled The Staircase since Michael finds Kathleen at the bottom of a staircase in their home. In a big twist, you find out that this is not the first time he’s found someone at the bottom of a staircase.
In this doc you’re able to see how Michael and his family handle the trial and you also hear his 911 call after finding Kathleen. It’s natural for viewers to judge a family’s emotions as they go through a trauma like this. You would if you would act the same way? You wonder if there even is a normal way to react from something so far from your everyday life. There are 13 episodes and the verdict is revealed in the 8th so the story does not end at that first trial.
The Seven Five (Netflix) Would Recommend
This documentary follows the corrupt Brooklyn cop Mike Dowd in the 1980s and his last partner Ken Eurell. You learn about the crimes he committed, how he committed them, and who he committed them with. They stole money, drugs, protected and informed criminals, and started their own drug distribution business. I’d say it was rather well known that NYC cops in the 80s were not always on the right side of the law and it’s very interesting to see some of the details first hand. Mike is eventually arrested and I’d say it’s worth watching just to find out how that all happens.
Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO) Would Recommend
This is an extremely well known documentary and a must watch. You follow the story of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy. Gypsy is sadly very ill suffering from leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and brain damage. She’s wheelchair bound, takes a truck load of medications, has undergone too many surgeries to count, and has a feeding tube. Her mother was a devoted caretaker – switching doctors when they started to question Gypsy’s illnesses, moving away from relatives when they became suspicious, and altering her daughter’s birth certificates by 4 years.
After learning about all this young girl has suffered through, you sympathize with her desperate need to escape her mother. So desperate that she might just plot her own mother’s murder.
There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (HBO) Would Not Recommend
This doc was local to me so that was the main interest of why I watched it. It’s about a mom driving 5 kids the wrong way on a parkway and kills herself, 4 of the children, and the 3 passengers of the car she hit. That’s a lot of tragedy in just one car accident so you really want to know how something like this happened. The doc takes you through the events that day between her strange call and the frantic call the kids briefly made to their dad (as they were Diane’s nieces).
You have recounts from other witnesses dodging her car as she drives through oncoming traffic and the background of who she was as a person from her supporters, her husband and sister in law. One decreased child was Diane’s and the other 3 were her brother’s, her brother and his wife did not participant in this doc. Fortunately or perhaps not, the one living child is not really able to give much insight aside from ‘there was something wrong’.
The reason I didn’t like this doc I believe all had to do with the directors storytelling choice. It’s suggested that Diane was a drug addict and miscalculated a dose that lead to this erratic driving behavior. The husband adamantly denies this and it’s mostly dropped by the directors, becoming much more subtle. It wasn’t until I searched discussion boards afterwards that theories about her drug abuse offered some explanation for what happened that day. The husband and sister in law talk about what a great mother and businesswoman she was and how she could have never had such a problem or they would have known about it. The ironic moment I have to mention here is the sister in law smoking a cigarette after hearing some bad news and saying “no one in my family knows about this.”