What is it about crime that is so fascinating? Whether we’re watching the good guys try to solve one, or the bad guys trying to get away with one, it seems like we’ve always been intrigued by the criminal element. And television networks have more than satiated our need for crime-based drama. Since TV became a must-have, shows about crime have been a staple.
In the last few decades, TV creators have really upped the ante on what makes a crime drama compelling. From drug lords to brilliant detectives, they’ve filled our primetime hours, DVRs, and streaming queues with powerful, addictive content. And Netflix has managed to pull together an incredible list of series for fans of crime procedurals and high-stakes dramas. Here are five of the best TV crime dramas you can watch on Netflix right now.
This Netflix original series has been hailed as a classic. Narcos tells the true story of notorious Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) and his deadly Medellín Cartel. It’s got everything you’d want in a crime drama — fast-paced storytelling, adrenaline-pumping action sequences, and the constant, needling feeling that something really bad could happen at any moment.
But it also tells the story from a unique angle, shifting between Escobar’s perspective and that of the DEA agents tasked with bringing him down. Narcos places us right in the middle of the action, taking us from lavish parties to the rural back roads of Colombia. The performances, from its leads to its bit players, are completely engaging. And its riveting narrative style is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. The first and second seasons of Narcos are available for streaming now.
2. Law & Order: SVU
Law & Order: SVU is one of those shows that a lot of people don’t want to admit they love. It’s a by-the-books crime drama, one that cycles victims and perps in and out every week. But it’s also one of the most entertaining crime procedurals in network television history. Like the show it originated from, Law & Order, SVU reels viewers in with plot lines that often echo real-world crimes. And though its cast of recurring characters has shifted over the years, and fan-favorites like Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Munch (Richard Belzer) are no longer on the air, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has enough grit and heart to make her one of the most memorable television detectives ever. You can watch four seasons of Law & Order: SVU on Netflix now.
3. Criminal Minds
Getting inside the mind of a criminal may sound like a daunting task — but it’s not for the brilliant cast of characters on Criminal Minds. This drama follows the Behavioral Analysis Unit, an elite group that tries to get to the bottom of some pretty despicable crimes. Unlike other crime dramas, which focus on the act itself, Criminal Minds hones in on the man or woman who committed the crime. This fact alone makes it an exciting psychological drama — but the talented cast and fascinating story lines also make it well worth your while. You can watch 11 seasons of Criminal Minds right now on Netflix.
A young boy’s death tears a small town apart, and two detectives are the only hope to bring about some closure. That’s the premise behind Broadchurch, a gripping British series that deviates from the standard procedural protocol found in most crime dramas. By following a single case and its after-effects, Broadchurch gives you a chilling, intricate glimpse at every angle of the crime. And its characters, from the grieving parents to the careful detectives (David Tennant and Olivia Colman) assigned to find the murderer, are rich and compelling.
Broadchurch was remade for American television as the now-canceled Gracepoint, but we highly recommend you stick to the original. You can watch two seasons of Broadchurch on Netflix now.
5. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad isn’t just considered one of the best crime series of all time — some feel it’s one of the best TV shows, period, and they have a strong case. This AMC drama follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin with the help of former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). And it works on multiple levels — it’s suspenseful and dramatic, a keen character study about the lengths that seemingly ordinary people will go to when desperate. Breaking Bad is spellbinding, and it’s nearly impossible to stop watching Walt’s personal life crumble as his empire grows. You can watch all five seasons on Netflix now.
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