It may sound absurd—and maybe even a bit disconcerting—but true crime is back. Serial, Making a Murderer, and now, Killing Fields on the Discovery Channel are currently dominating all inter-office conversation, prompting colleagues with little to no police experience to fancy themselves detectives and spin their own wild conspiracy theories.
Below, three series you need to watch and listen to this weekend, if you wish to partake, according to our editors.
Remember when everyone and their mother had an opinion on whether or not Adnan Syed was guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend? The podcast that re-ignited America's true crime obsession is back, and as a self-professed Serial obsessive, I couldn't be happier about it. Hosted again by the fantastic Sarah Koenig, whose mellifluous voice narrated the bulk of my commute last winter, this season attempts to find the truth behind Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's story.
In case you need a refresher: In 2009, the U.S. soldier abandoned his post while stationed in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. After spending five years in captivity, he was released amidst heavy speculation and several congressional investigations. Seeing as this was a major news event, I vividly remember the years-long hoopla surrounding the story, and therefore have found myself completely re-enraptured by NPR's deep-dive behind the headlines as Koenig and the rest of her team attempt to find out what really went down. She herself admits that the story “spins out in so many unexpected directions.” I’m with it every step of the way.
Making a Murderer pretty much combines my obsession of true crime TV shows and marathoning 10 episodes at a time of said shows on Netflix. The series follows Steven Avery, a man from Manitowoc County, Wis., who served 18 years in prison after being falsely convicted of sexually assaulting a prominent member of the community. DNA testing eventually proved that he wasn’t guilty of the attack and he was released—only to get arrested two years later for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Halbach was last seen alive at Avery’s car lot, though the jury is still kind of out on whether or not he actually killed her—and they’re slightly corrupt, at that. Without giving too much away, you’ll be questioning just about everything you know about the Manitowoc County police, forensic evidence, and the legal system as a whole.
Over the course of the trial, Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey gets involved (no spoilers, I swear), and Dassey’s half-brother Brad went on to pen an aptly titled rap called “They Didn’t Do It” to let the rest of us know how he really feels about the case. I finished all the episodes over two days and went full Carmen Sandiego afterwards, convinced I would crack the case by looking up court documents and police records—because, you know, ask and Reddit shall deliver. It’s hard not to come across info surrounding the Avery case considering the recent developments and the fact that the series as a whole has gone completely viral, so if you have yet to watch it, make plans to knock out at least four episodes tonight.
I’m by no means a crime buff, but after spending the bulk of my winter break streaming Serial and binge-watching Making a Murderer with reckless abandon, I found myself desperate to fill the void left by Steven Avery with something equally controversial and addictive at the start of 2016. Then I discovered Killing Fields.
For the uninitiated, Killing Fields is Discovery Channel’s new unscripted series—shot in real time—that traces a re-opened criminal case in the little-known town of Iberville Paris, La., 15 miles from Baton Rouge. It goes like this: In June 1997, Louisiana State University graduate student Eugenie Boisfontaine was last seen near the campus lakes. Two months later, her body is found in a ditch, with evidence of blunt force to her head. As a team of hotshot detectives—including Rodie Sanchez, who literally comes out of retirement to join the team, and Lori Morgan, a badass DNA expert and mother of three—attempts to unravel the mystery, they begin to draw parallels to dozens of other incidents of missing and murdered women in the surrounding area that went unsolved (the Louisiana bayous are well-known dumping grounds for dead bodies, hence show’s title).
It’s like True Detective IRL, complete with two lead investigators traversing the Creole State in tandem. And, with just six episodes (aka four hours with fast-forwarding), it’s short enough to finish in one (very lazy) afternoon.