May 25, 2022

Some stories in history are just so intricate and fascinating that a feature film or television show adaptation is nearly irresistible, regardless of how gruesome or horrific the subject matter may be.

That was very much the case for the story of Candy Montgomery, whose shocking turn from average housewife to homewrecker and axe-murderer shocked both her local community and the nation as a whole. Her murder of her friend and fellow housewife Betty Gore was far from the first heinous crime to occur within a domestic setting, and unfortunately, it would not be the last. Without these unfortunate real-life scenarios, the true-crime genre simply wouldn’t exist. Despite being beloved by many, some maybe just a bit too uncomfortable with the visceral and graphic true events within these stories.

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So those who do find themselves getting queasy at the real thing but are still interested in these stories, there is no shortage of fictionalized adaptations that tell these tragic tales through creative directing and intricate performances. As viewers continue to stream Candy on the small screen, they may also want to consider these other series that are based on real crimes.

Related:’Candy’: Watch Melanie Lynskey Sing Jessica Biel’s Praises: “I Just Think She’s an Absolute Genius”

The Girl from Plainville (2022)

One of the more recent true-crime series to hit streaming, The Girl from Plainville details the controversial story of Michelle Carter.

Carter’s role in the suicide of her then-boyfriend Conrad Roy made headlines when texts made to Roy indicated that Carter wanted him to end his life, and she may have even encouraged it. When prosecutors decided that Carter’s texts to Roy proved severe enough to warrant a manslaughter charge, the ensuing trial ignited fiery debates regarding free speech and the impact that mere words can have in a situation. Lead actress Elle Fanning excels in what is easily her most transformative role yet, looking near-identical to Carter and delivering a performance that perfectly fits the divisive figure and her equally divisive court case.


The Girl from Plainville is available to stream on Hulu.

Landscapers (2021)

The vast majority of major crimes, at least in the U.S., typically occur between two significant others, but what happens when two partners commit a crime together

Landscapers answers this question by telling the story of Susan and Christopher Edwards, a seemingly normal British couple who became subjects of a national manhunt after two dead bodies were found buried in their residence. Not only did the bodies belong to Susan Edwards’s parents, but they had also been buried there for well over fifteen years. With an Academy Award winner and a Primetime Emmy nominee taking on the lead roles with Olivia Colman and David Thewlis, Landscapers explains in vivid detail how Susan and Christopher Edwards pulled off a seemingly impossible crime.


Landscapers is available to stream on HBO Max.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016)

The first season of the hit crime series doesn’t just detail a true crime, it details the true crime.

As the title implies, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is a courtroom drama that focuses on one of the most notorious and divisive criminal cases in American history, where football player and actor O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering both his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and family friend Ron Goldman. The resulting trial became an infamous media circus, with fans and critics both debating the innocence of Simpson. Led by an ensemble cast, The People v. O.J. Simpson kickstarted a new hit anthology series for FX, with the following seasons titled The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Impeachment also being gripping tales of crime and manipulation.


American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is available to stream on Hulu.

Dr. Death (2021)

Podcasts have also become a very popular medium for the true crime genre, and one such program became the inspiration for Dr. Death.

Dr. Christopher Duntsch at first glance appeared to be your average young spinal surgeon until many of his patients were exiting routine procedures injured, disabled, or in some cases, dead. As more and more people seemed to get hurt by Dr. Duntsch, two medical professionals and a Texas district attorney concluded that these weren’t cases of gross negligence, but examples of pre-meditated harm. What makes Dr. Death more disturbing than most true-crime stories is how the main antagonist is someone who has taken the Hippocratic oath and swore to aid and protect his patients, and yet he willfully put these completely innocent people in mortal danger.


Dr. Death is available to stream on Peacock.

Related:’Candy’: Hulu’s True Crime Drama Is Bittersweet at Best | Review

Alias Grace (2017)

All the other entries on this list take place in a modern era where information and visual evidence were readily available to virtually everyone, so it’s rare to get a faithful true crime account from a more historical setting.

Yet, that is exactly what Alias Grace delivers, taking place in the mid-1800s and evaluating the complicated murder mystery committed by Grace Marks; an Irish immigrant to 19th century Canada accused of killing her former employer. Marks claims not to remember anything about the event taking place, so a psychologist is brought in to conclude whether she is truly an amnesiac or is simply avoiding a confession. Those unfamiliar with the history behind Marks will have a difficult time figuring out if she is lying or not, making the mystery aspect even more alluring.

Alias Grace is available to stream on Netflix.

The Act (2019)

Perhaps the most sympathetic subject to be listed here, once Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s story was supposedly revealed, an unusual change in dynamics occurred.

Instead of sympathy being targeted towards the victim, those who heard the story felt more sympathy for Gypsy, who pled guilty to the killing of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. Gypsy spent her entire life up until her court case believing she had a long list of mental and physical disabilities, but this all turned out to be unfounded as medical examiners concluded no evidence of such ailments. This drew the conclusion that Dee Dee Blanchard had falsified her daughter’s conditions, and regardless of if she did this out of simply being overprotective or a desire to reap charitable benefits, the physical and psychological trauma that Gypsy received were incredibly severe.


The Act is available to stream on Hulu.

Dirty John (2018-2020)

Much like American Crime Story, Dirty John is also a true crime anthology series, but one that primarily focuses on crimes of passion.

The first of the two seasons center on interior designer Debra Newell, whose marriage to the show’s namesake John Meehan went from a dream relationship to an abusive nightmare. The second season follows Betty Broderick whose infamous smile shocked the court when she arrived at the proceedings for her murdered ex-husband and his new wife. A third season has yet to be canceled or confirmed, though there is certainly no shortage of true stories to choose from.

Dirty John is available to stream on Netflix.


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