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Like Netflix’s hit series American Nightmare? Then watch these 3 great true crime shows

Promo art of a woman from Netflix's American Nightmare.

True crime is one of those genres that never gets old. It feels like there’s a new true crime series out every week that has everyone talking. That is, until the next one comes along. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the sensational, sometimes unbelievable, but entirely true stories involving everything from murder to elaborate cons. One of the latest that has everyone talking, for example, is Netflix’s American Nightmare, a California story about a kidnapped woman who was described as the real-life Gone Girl.

But there are others, older and new, that are worth looking into. If you’re a fan of the true crime genre, these are the three underrated true crime shows that are perfect to cozy up with this winter. All three happen to be streaming on Netflix, home to some of the most gripping true crime series on TV today.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (2021)

Two men looking at footage from a hotel in a scene from Crime Scene: Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.

This docuseries was met with a lot of criticism, particularly for the “tasteless reenactments” and heavy emphasis on conspiracy theories. But Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is also thoroughly gripping, highlighting a story that will make the hairs on your arm stand at attention. Elisa Lam, a young woman with mental health struggles, visited the Cecil Hotel and wound up dead. This alone is tragic, but the stories of tragedy that plagued the budget hotel in Los Angeles for years prior make it even more horrifying.

For those who know the story already, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel explores interesting theories that are entertaining at best, though not likely to be true. There are elements that can’t be substantiated, like the purportedly edited video of Lam acting strangely in the elevator shortly before she disappeared. But the tragic nature of the story and the history of the hotel are interesting elements examined throughout the series that shouldn’t be discarded.

Stream Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix. 

Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife (2023)

Benita Alexander kissing Paolo Macchiarini on the cheek as he looks at the camera in footage from Bad Surgen: Love Under the Knife.

When NBC News producer Benita Alexander met Dr. Paulo Macchiarini while working on a story, there was an instant connection. This quickly blossomed into a full-fledged romance as the charismatic, high-society man who was supposedly doing such good for the world swept her off her feet. But there was more than meets the eye to this doctor.

Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife tells the story primarily through Alexander’s accounts of what happened. Macchiarini was world famous after supposedly having invented a stem cell-infused windpipe transplant that he claimed could save peoples’ lives. Except his patients kept dying. On a personal level, Macchiarini was also living a double life filled with secrets and lies. He’s the subject of the second season of Peacock drama Dr. Death. But for a deep dive into the true story, told largely from the perspective of the woman who once loved him, Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife will leave your jaw dropped to the floor.

Stream Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife on Netflix. 

Escaping Twin Flames (2023)

A young woman with a hoodie looks off to the distance in a scene from Escaping Twin Flames.

There are no murders, but you’ll be left stunned and horrified after watching Escaping Twin Flames, especially knowing that the organization continues to operate to this day. Jeff and Shaleia Divine have devised a company and program whereby they purport to help people find their one true love, their “twin flame.” Through a series of courses and seminars, all delivered online (and increasingly expensive), the individuals are told that they will be given the tools to determine who their twin flame is, and make sure they connect with them.

However, former members allege coercive control, indoctrination, and abuse at the hands of the leaders, with many dubbing Twin Flames Universe a cult. Built on interviews and snippets of course material, as well as backstories about the two owners, Escaping Twin Flames is one of the most shocking and horrifying docuseries of last year. It is directed and produced by Cecilia Peck, who is also behind Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. Once you’re done watching, it’s worth checking out Amazon Prime Video’s Escaping Twin Flames Universe for additional perspective.

Stream Escaping Twin Flames on Netflix. 

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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