By now the world is familiar with how Walter White came to stand in the middle of the New Mexico desert in nothing but his underwear. Penn Badgley has earned a badge of honor as the psychopathic heartthrob in the Netflix original thriller series You, and everyone wants to be friends with the juvenile delinquents on Outer Banks. As true crime podcasts and documentary series like Making a Murder and Joe Exotic: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness continue to thrive, so have addictive and dangerous crime series.
Netflix is currently a hot spot for criminals and is host to various acclaimed series like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Squid Game, and more. As of now, the streaming service doesn’t show any intention of slowing down its production of petty thieves.But the wrongdoings don’t have to stop with shows like You and Narcos: Mexico, and the streaming service contains several more tales of lawless crooks living in obscurity amongst the more flashy, obvious outlaws. Here are the underrated crime series on Netflix streaming right now.
Editor’s note: This article was updated March 2023 to include Peaky Blinders.
Created by: Susannah Grant, Ayelet Waldman, Michael Chabon
Cast: Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever
Set during 2008-2011, Unbelievable is a gut punch of a series about a teenager who was charged with lying about a rape. Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever) is the survivor of a violent sexual assault, but the problem is that no one will believe what happened to her. The series follows two Colorado cops — Toni Collette‘s Detective Grace Rasmussen and Merritt Wever‘s Detective Karen Duvall — as they chase down the trail of a rapist in their separate counties. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning article, the series can be difficult to watch at times, and definitely triggering for those who might be sensitive to the topic of sexual assault. But, Collette and Wever’s performances make it all worth it as they doggedly hunt down the monster who is hunting women. A heartbreaking look at the prejudice that the justice system has against the victims of rape, Unbelievable is one that you can’t miss. — Therese Lacson
Peaky Blinders (2013-2022)
Created By: Steven Knight
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Sophie Rundle
Set in 1900s Birmingham, England, Peaky Blinders is a fictional story loosely based on the real street gang of the same name. Cillian Murphy (Inception) leads us deep into the criminal underbelly of post-WWI England as he takes on the role of ambitious gang boss Tommy Shelby. Over the course of six seasons, the gang makes big moves to expand outside of Birmingham, taking out anyone who stands in their way. But every step brings them closer to cops, mafias, and the government itself, who will stop at nothing to shut down their criminal enterprise. The series is a masterpiece set in a forgotten period rich with storytelling potential. Peaky Blinders is cinematic, epic, and so captivating you’ll choose to keep watching when you know you should be asleep. – Tauri Miller
The Chestnut Man (2021-present)
Creators: Dorte Warnøe Høgh, David Sandreuter, Mikkel Serup
Cast: David Dencik, Danica Curcic, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
The Chestnut Man is a grisly Danish crime drama that’s been compared to The Bridge and The Killing in themes and tone. Set in a Copenhagen suburb, The Chestnut Man follows an ambitious new detective and her partner as they explore the mysterious murder of a young woman whose body was discovered missing her hands and laid below a small doll made of chestnuts. In addition to building tension while waiting for the pieces of the puzzle to unfold, The Chestnut Man is full of layered and complex characters similar to the award-winning series Mare of Eastown. – Yael Tygiel
Created by: John McNamara
Cast: David Duchovny, Grey Damon, Gethin Anthony
Take a trip back to the 60s, where the hair was longer, the skirts were shorter, and the Devil had come to Los Angeles in the form of Charles Manson. In the NBC period piece, Aquarius, David Duchovny portrays Sam Hodiak, a detective hot on the trail of Manson as he searches for a teenage runaway. The runaway in question, 16-year-old Emma (Emma Dumont), leaves home after meeting the Manson family at a party, and proceeds to embrace their violent, drug-induced lifestyle while trying to forget her former, picture-perfect life. If you miss Mad Men and want more of the swinging 60s, Aquarius is the perfect follow-up, as it’s sprinkled with pop culture candy while also revealing a darker side to the iconic and revolutionary decade. Actor Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) gives an eerily spot-on performance as Manson, and the series is engulfed in dread as it leads up to that inevitable night in August 1969 on Cielo drive.
Designated Survivor (2016-2019)
Created by: David Guggenheim
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci
The political thriller, Designated Survivor, follows the direct aftermath of a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol during the State of the Union Address that leaves the President and almost everyone else in attendance dead. In case of catastrophic events such as this one, each year a single cabinet member is chosen to be the designated survivor, and therefore does not attend the event. This time around, it’s the Housing and Urban Development secretary, Tom Kirman, played by Kiefer Sutherland. Now, the underqualified Kirman is sworn in as President, and he must quickly learn how to govern a country while also hunting down the terrorists responsible for the attack. With Sutherland in the lead, the series has traces of the Fox thriller 24, and its charming banter between White House aides evokes memories of the classic political series, The West Wing. Actress Maggie Q (Nikita) takes up most of the action, portraying a tough-as-nails CIA agent that plays a dangerous cat and mouse game with the anonymous terrorists. Running for two thrilling seasons on ABC before getting cancelled, its third and final season was thankfully picked up and released by Netflix.
Created by: John Coveny, Hunt Baldwin
Cast: Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips
The A&E turned Netflix original neo-western series, Longmire, is a fresh take on the cop procedural that trades in skyscrapers for the Wyoming mountains. Following Sherriff Walt Longmire as he solves various crimes in the expansive Absaroka County, he also contends with inner demons and a tortured past. A weathered cowboy amongst the last of his kind, Longmire is based upon the long-running book series written by Craig Johnson. The supporting characters include the spunky deputy Victoria Moretti(Katee Sackhoff), Longmire’s daughter, Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman), and local bartender Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), as they all come to Longmire’s aid while he hunts down a colorful slew of cowboys and thieves amongst the unforgiving Wyoming wilderness.
Dare Me (2019-2020)
Created by: Megan Abbott, Gina Fattore
Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Herizen Guardiola, Marlo Kelly
The USA drama, Dare Me, is a dark and dirty examination of the sacred bond between two cheerleaders, Addy (Herizen F. Guardiola) and Beth (Marlo Kelly), and the manipulative power dynamics that lurk beneath their sweet smiles. When former hometown hero, Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald), arrives back in town and becomes the new head cheerleading coach, her take no prisoners approach pushes the girls to their breaking point, and they begin to crack under pressure. A glitzy, neo-noir mystery that foreshadows a murder is waiting in the wings for one of the townspeople, Dare Me is a ticking time bomb of suspense and glitter. During its first season, the series was unable to find its footing amongst audiences, and it was unfortunately cancelled before anyone knew what they were missing. Based upon the 2011 novel written by Megan Abbott, if you’re anxiously awaiting the return of teen thrillers like Euphoria and Riverdale, enter the dreamy world of backstabbing, backflipping teenage girls in Dare Me.
Wynonna Earp (2016-2021)
Created by: Emily Andras
Cast: Melanie Scrofano, Shamier Anderson, Tim Rozon
The wild west gets a modernized, supernatural twist in Wynonna Earp, the Syfy original horror series based upon the comic book series of the same name. Melanie Scrofano stars as the gun-toting Wynonna Earp, great-granddaughter to the legendary gunslinger, Wyatt Earp. When she returns to her hometown of Purgatory after years away, she resurrects several vengeful demons called revenants, and all hell breaks loose. Seeking payback after her great-grandfather killed them over a century ago, Wynonna fights back against the revenants with the help of her sister, Waverly (Dominque Provost), Deputy Marshall Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson), and the immortal Doc Holiday (Tim Rozon), former best friend to Wyatt Earp. Never taking itself too seriously, Wynonna Earp has elements of classic B-Horror movies, as outlaws sporting cowboy boots and southern twangs battle vicious monsters spewing fire and guns.
In the Dark (2019-present)
Created by: Corrine Kingsbury
Cast: Perry Mattfeld, Rich Sommer, Brooke Markham
If you’re sick of the hardboiled crime in New York City and the smog-filled air covering sunny Los Angeles, branch out and travel to Chicago, Illinois. The CW thriller series, In the Dark, embraces the Windy City and all its midwestern quirk while also making for a refreshing murder mystery that spans across the frigid Lake Michigan and rackety red line trains. Centering around the loveable antihero, Murphy (Perry Mattfeld), she’s a blind, alcoholic Chicagoan living on one-night stands and drunken escapades. Besides her dog and roommate, her only friend is a nice 16-year-old kid named Tyson, and every night they can be found hanging out in the alley behind her apartment as they complain about life and listen to good music. One night as Murphy arrives in the alley, she proceeds to stumble upon Tyson’s dead body, but by the time the cops arrive, his body is gone. As an alcoholic, blind woman, neither the cops or Murphy’s friends believe that she found Tyson’s dead body, and that only motivates her more as she sets off to solve the case. Becoming obsessed with finding out what happened to Tyson, Murphy goes down a dark rabbit hole crowded with dirty politicians, heroic dogs, and copious amounts of whiskey in this darkly comedic Midwest thriller.
Seven Seconds (2018)
Created by: Veena Sud
Cast: Regina King, Russell Hornsby, Zackary Momoh
When a fifteen-year-old black teenager, Brenton Butler, gets killed in a hit and run by a white police officer, a cover-up ensues as the corrupt police department aims to protect the cop who fled the scene. In the powerful and timely Netflix original limited series, Seven Seconds, Regina King gives a tour-de-force performance as Latrice Butler, Brenton’s headstrong and resilient mother. As Latrice fights for justice while grieving, the series paints a picture of a broken system that is in desperate need of repair. Veena Sud, creator, and co-writer on the series, is also responsible for the riveting murder mystery series, The Killing, and she’s right at home as she produces yet another complex portrayal of grief amidst shady suspects, irredeemable criminals, and city lights. Containing an all-star ensemble cast, Clare-Hope Ashitey (Children of Men) gives a gripping performance as an alcoholic attorney, in addition to featuring Michael Mosey (The Sinner) as a careless detective and Russel Hornsby (The Affair) as Brenton’s stoic father.
Created by: Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson
Cast: Christopher Meloni, Ritchie Coster, Lili Mirojnick
Lonely people fill a dark world in Happy, an outrageously gory crime series thanks to an unhinged performance by Christopher Meloni and fantastic special effects that practically jump off the screen and drench you in blood. Meloni stars in this hilarious SyFy original series as a formally disgraced cop, Nick Sax, and he now makes his daily bread as a cold-blooded hitman. Sax lives a miserable existence, and his job is made hard due to his alcoholism and general depressive nature. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and he finds newfound meaning in life when he begins to hunt down an evil Santa Clause that’s begun kidnapping children throughout New York City. Aided by an imaginary, animated horse named Happy, voiced by Patton Oswalt, the pair discover a terrifying neverland living within The Big Apple. Filled with bloodthirsty mob bosses, cops, and a killer Santa Clause, Happy will have you whistling Christmas tunes in no time.
Teenage Bounty Hunters (2020)
Created by: Kathleen Jordan
Cast: Maddie Phillips, Anjelica Bette Fellini, Kadeem Hardison
Sick of the same old, cliched teenage drama where first-time cigarettes and beers are consumed, and the biggest heartbreak is served at the high school prom? Try the Netflix original, Teenage Bounty Hunters, a southern coming-of-age series about two Jesus-loving teenage girls who turn to a life of crime all the while attending church on Sundays. Fraternal twins Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair Wesley (Angelica Bette Fellini) are two practicing Christian good girls who’ve always followed the rules. That all changes when they accidentally crash into and wreck the car of the down on his luck bounty hunter, Bowser (Kadeem Hardison). Sterling and Blair apologize by helping him catch his current target, and from there the trio works together to bring down criminals and administer justice. A hilarious satire that pokes fun at what the modern-day southern girl should look and act like, the series packs a punch. But nothing good is meant to last, and the series was destined to be a one-hit-wonder as Netflix cancelled it after the first season.
Hap & Leonard (2016-2018)
Created by: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici
Cast: James Purefoy, Michael K. Williams, Jimmi Simpson, Bill Sage
Everything old is new again in the Sundance series Hap & Leonard, a 1980s period piece drenched in southern charm and crime. Based upon the novel series under the same name written by Joe R. Lansdale, the series stars James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams as Hap and Leonard, two best friends that get pulled into a treacherous world of drug dealers and thieves. Recently unemployed and struggling to get by, things start looking up when Hap’s ex-wife, Trudy (Christina Hendricks), offers the pair a once-in-a-lifetime deal that could make them rich. Hap and Leonard accept the offer, and begin searching for a supposedly lost treasure buried deep within a local river that’s littered with hungry alligators and fellow crooked criminals searching for the fortune. Accompanied by a great soundtrack that features timeless rock classics from bands like Tears for Fears and Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hap and Leonard is a good old-fashioned buddy adventure with hints of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Smoky and the Bandit, as it details two outlaws in way over their heads.
Alias Grace (2017)
Directed by: Mary Harron
Cast: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Rebecca Liddiard, Zachary Levi
Alias Graceis a mind-bending whodunit mystery thriller that will have you questioning everything by the series end. Adapted from the novel written by Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Alias Grace is loosely based upon the real-life woman, Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant and maid who was accused of murdering her boss and his housekeeper in Canada during the 1800s. Convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison, the entire limited series is like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that refuse to fit, as Grace (Sara Gadon) claims she doesn’t remember committing the murders or the events that led up to her employers’ grizzly deaths. When an impressionable psychiatrist begins to interview her in order to get a full account of what really happened, Grace proves to be an unreliable narrator that is impossible to decipher.
Good Girls (2018-2021)
Created by: Jenna Bans
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Retta, Mae Whitman
Good Girls is what would happen if Breaking Bad got a Midwest makeover, and Walter White and Jesse Pink transformed into fed-up, underappreciated, bank-robbing moms. Top billing in this NBC comedy-drama series is shared by Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman, and the threesome are a match made in heaven as Beth, Ruby, and Annie, a group of moms barely scraping by in the Detroit suburbs. Fed-up with their dire financial situations, the women decide to rob the local grocery store and proceed to successfully steal all the money from the vault. They get a lot more than they bargained for when a murderous drug dealer shows up on their nicely mowed lawns and informs them that the money they stole from the store was his, and now they owe him. The trio is then forced to dive headfirst into a life of money laundering and bank-robbing, all the while raising kids and baking cupcakes for school bake sales. Every episode is a well-oiled, exciting machine, and the series ran for four exhilarating seasons on NBC before the network cancelled the show and announced the fourth season would be the last. With hints of screwball comedy accompanied by some nasty criminals, Good Girls has got all the right stuff.
Brand New Cherry Flavor (2021)
Created by: Nick Antosca, Lenore Zion
Cast: Rosa Salazar, Catherine Keener, Eric Lange, Manny Jacinto
Not looking for a long commitment? The Netflix original limited series, New Brand Cherry Flavor, is the perfect binge-watch that can be devoured over the course of one weekend. A neo-noir horror show set in early 90s Los Angeles and steeped in Hollywood glitter and cigarette smoke, the series details one woman’s quest for revenge amongst supernatural creatures and power-hungry media moguls. When hotshot producer, Lou Burke (Eric Lange), cheats aspiring filmmaker Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) out of directing her movie, she goes about placing a curse on him with the help of the ancient witch, Boro (Catherine Keener), who poses as a hippy-loving, L.A. woman. Eric Lange’s portrayal of a conniving, entitled producer will make your skin boil, and the various ways in which the women destroy his life is both cruel and horrifying. Rosa Salazar gives a rage-filled performance as violent as a tornado in this Lynchian tale of a twisted wonderland living underneath the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, and the result is a mind-boggling experience. Brand New Cherry Flavor may not be everyone’s taste, but its explosive bombardment of flavors makes one unforgettable meal and is meant only for the bravest of consumers. Rotten with dishonorable men and artists willing to sell their souls to become stars, this unsentimental takedown of tinsel town teaches that not everything that glitters is gold.
Created by: Adam Brooks, Paul Adelstein
Cast: Inbar Lavi, Rob Heaps, Parker Young, Marianne Rendón
In the dark comedy series, Imposters, a trio of heartbroken, blossoming criminals will stop at nothing until they find and exact revenge on one of the greatest con artists who ever played the game. Meet Ezra (Rob Heaps), Richard (Parker Young), and Julia (Marianne Rendon), three strangers who set off to hunt down their ex, Maddie (Inbar Lavi). An accomplished grifter, Maddie conned each of them into believing she loved them, and then preceded to marry them, steal all their money, and disappear. As the newly acquainted threesome ditch their day jobs and travel cross country to find Maddie, they become caught up in a much bigger scheme, with dangerous criminals and undercover FBI Agents coming out of the woodworks to find Maddie too. A tale of grifters making dirty deals on park benches and hiding under neon motel lights, Imposters is an unforgettable ride thanks to hilarious performances and brilliant writing. Referencing iconic films like The Stingand The French Connection, the series acknowledges its roots while also becoming a lawbreaking beast of its own. The series has a dynamic roster of evil wrongdoers, and Uma Thurman stands out as a cold-blooded assassin called Lenny the shark. Lasting for two, top-notch seasons, this story of unusual suspects proves that the greatest con a person can ever pull off is love itself.
The OA (2016-2019)
Created by: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij
Cast: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Phyllis Smith
The Netflix original fantasy series, The OA, is not only one of the most innovative series to come out of the 21st century, but also one of the best. Miraculous things start happening when Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling) mysteriously turns up seven years after having gone missing. She refuses to give up information regarding her whereabouts during her seven years away to both the cops and her parents, including how she magically regained her sight after being blind for most of her life. Recovering her vision is just the tip of the iceberg, and as the series slowly unfolds, it reveals what really happened to Prairie in the time she was gone. As she readjusts to her old life and moves back into her parents’ home in the drab, grey-skied suburbs of Michigan, Prairie enlists the help of four, troubled boys to go on a high-stakes mission that entails various mythological creatures, angels, and demons. With additional aide from a sweet local English teacher, played by Phyllis Smith (The Office), the group goes on a dangerous journey that takes them far away from their uneventful, small-town midwestern lives. The series was just heating up when Netflix cancelled it after two seasons in 2019, but don’t let that stop you from watching this dreamy extravaganza that’s filled with existential ponderings on the meaning of life.
https://collider.com/underrated-crime-shows-on-netflix/ Underrated Crime Shows on Netflix Right Now (March 2023)