If you were left simultaneously enthralled yet enraged by Netflix’s latest true crime documentary series American Nightmare, then here are five shows to watch next.
American Nightmare arrived on Netflix last week, centering on the so-called “Gone Girl hoax,” a term used to describe and discredit the experience of Denise Huskins, who was kidnapped from her California home and held hostage for two days in 2015.
While Huskins and Quinn were initially treated as suspects and accused of being hoaxers, the shocking truth came to light and Matthew Muller was arrested for the crime. The Vallejo Police Department is now under intense scrutiny – as are its detectives, including Mat Mustard – for how they handled the investigation.
If you’re on the lookout for what to watch next, here are five shows that will stir up the same emotions as American Nightmare. Warning: Some may find this content distressing.
5 shows to watch like American Nightmare
Below, you will find five shows like American Nightmare – including dramatizations of real cases and documentaries. We’ve also included where to stream them so you know where to dive in.
First up is Unbelievable, the poignant 2019 true crime dramatization about teen Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever), who reported being raped in her home, only for the local police to turn on her. Concurrently, detectives Grace Rasmussen and Karen Duvall (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) are working together to try and catch a serial rapist, one whose crimes match the description of Adler’s. The officers who refuse to believe Adler are similar to those involved in Huskins and Quinn’s case, leading numerous Netflix fans to recommend adding Unbelievable to the watch list.
Where to stream: Netflix
Dr Death Season 2 (2023)
The second chapter of the Dr Death series, based on the medical malpractice podcast of the same name, flew under the radar when it arrived last December. But it’s well worth a watch, detailing the shocking true case of the fraudster surgeon Dr Paolo Macchiarini, and the whistleblowers who fought to bring his misdeeds to light. Though events are completely separate to those in American Nightmare, the series will no doubt evoke similar emotions. Namely frustration, as Macchiarini – like Detective Mustard – abused his position of power and was protected by the higher ups.
Where to stream: Peacock
When They See Us (2019)
Created by Ava DuVernay, When They See Us is a gripping portrayal of the Central Park jogger case that unfolded in 1989. The 2019 series sheds light on the wrongful conviction of five Black and Latino teenagers, known as the Central Park Five, for the brutal assault of a white woman. The show explores the systemic racism inherent in the American criminal justice system, emphasizing the impact of coerced confessions. Themes of injustice, police misconduct, and power dynamics within the US legal system resonate strongly throughout the series, much like they do in American Nightmare.
Where to stream: Netflix
The themes explored in American Nightmare are tragically similar to those in Victim/Suspect – a feature-length documentary on a journalist’s investigations into numerous cases of young women who reported their sexual assaults with substantial evidence, only for the police to accuse them of lying and arrest them for filing false reports. Journalist Rae de Leon’s research led to her uncovering a shockingly high number of these cases across the US, which highlight a pattern of victim-blaming by the police. Similarly, Huskins recounts facing a similar situation when it came to her kidnapping and sexual assault.
Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York (2023)
Directed by Anthony Caronna, Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York is a recently released four-part documentary series telling the story of Richard Rogers – dubbed “The Last Call Killer” – who targeted gay and bisexual men. The series demonstrates how he was able to get away with his crimes for so long, examining the wider context of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community including deep-rooted biases of the criminal justice system, from the 1960s to the present day. Though its focus is on the LGBTQ+ community rather than sexual assault survivors, both Last Call and American Nightmare share themes of injustice and discrimination.
Where to stream: Max
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