There's never been a more exciting time to be an armchair detective, speculating over the details of a heinous crime from the comfort of your lounge room.
From The Staircase, to The Jinx, to Making a Murderer, to O.J. Simpson: Made in America, to the incredible onslaught of JonBenét Ramsey documentaries commemorating the 20 year anniversary of her death this year, to Netflix's Amanda Knox special, it's truly the age of the true crime docu-series.
As with any genre, these docos vary in quality, with O.J. Simpson: Made in America steadfastly holding its place as one of the best true crime docu-series you'll see. Aside from potentially becoming the first television series to ever win an Academy Award next year, O.J. has it all: Love sports? The first episode will give you all the backstory of O.J.'s success as an NFL player. Love celebrities? This doco will give you an understanding of just how famous the guy was, and if you're also into reality stars, yes, it will add to your knowledge of the Kardashians, the morally corrupt Faye Resnick and just how tight the Beverly Hills social circle is. Just interested in a gory murder? Let me tell you, the crime scene photos they show in the fourth episode are really, really full on. But really, what this documentary offers is an understanding of the racial tension in Los Angeles at the time, and how the O.J. case was so affected by the Rodney King case and the L.A riots that followed. Basically? If you love true crime, this one is mandatory viewing.
If you're like me, once you're done with O.J. you'll be looking for a new crime to fall into a Wikipedia spiral over, so I've taken the liberty of constructing a list of six other crimes that I think are incredibly deserving of their own docu-series.
1 The Beaumont Kids
The case: Three siblings - Jane, Arnna and Grant - went to the Glenelg beach one afternoon by themselves, and were never seen again.
Why is deserves a series: Look guys, I'm from Adelaide, a place once (falsely) declared the "murder capital of the world", and quite frankly, I could've written an entire list of Adelaide murders I think are worthy of a docu-series, but as it is, I kept it to two. The case of the Beaumont children's disappearance is one that has generated national headlines for decades, and for good reason: How do three children go to the beach one afternoon, to never be seen or heard from ever again?
I know it's been 50 years since it happened (they went missing on Australia Day, 1966), but this case is still open, and earlier this year, police said that they had received 159 calls (one every four days) about the childrens' disappearance. Let's get a team of experts together and go over it all one last time.
2 The Somerton Man
The case: At 6:30am on December 1st, 1948, an unidentified man was found dead at Somerton beach right next to Glenelg - which happens to be the beach the Beaumont children were last seen.
Why it deserves a series: The Somerton Man is another very old, very strange case from Adelaide. Who was he? No one knows. What killed him? NO ONE KNOWS (although they suspect he was poisoned, they couldn't work out which poison it was or how he ingested it). The point is, there's a lot of questions here and I WOULD LIKE SOME ANSWERS.
Adding an extra dimension to this case is the note they found in his pocket. Printed on it was "tamám shud", which means "ended" or "finished" in Persian. The police figured out that the note was torn from this old AF book of poems, right, and then FOUND THE BOOK WITH THE PAGE TORN OUT, but this only led to more questions.
The book had indentations in it from notes written against it, and police found a couple of phone numbers and what appeared to be an encrypted message, but they've never been able to figure out what it meant. So, what does it all mean? I DON'T KNOW I AM NOT A DETECTIVE, but wow, would I like to know. Give me a series and find me some answers, please.
3 Casey Anthony
The case: Two-year-old Caylee Anthony, daughter of Casey Anthony, was reported missing in July 2008 by her grandmother Cindy, who reported that she hadn't seen her granddaughter in a month and that Casey's car smelled like a dead body. Caylee's remains were discovered five months later in December of 2008. During those five months, Casey lied to the police, saying that the nanny had kidnapped her daughter, got a tattoo that said "Bella Vita" ("beautiful life" in Italian), and went clubbing. She was charged with Caylee's murder in October 2008 and pled not guilty.
Why it deserves a series: Despite being convicted in the court of public opinion, Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee, much to the shock of everyone outside the court.
Here's how I picture a Casey Anthony docuseries: It would take us through Caylee's disappearance and the discovery of her body five months later, present us with all the evidence - and then, much like O.J Simpson: Made in America, it would explain to me and all the other people who think she's guilty exactly how on earth she was acquitted.
4 Madeline McCann
The case: On the evening of May 3rd 2007, three-year-old Madeline McCann disappeared from her family's hotel room in Portugal. Her twin siblings were left unharmed. Where were her parents, you ask? They were out to dinner at a restaurant 50 metres from the room, leaving the sleeping children unattended.
Why it deserves a series: Like the JonBenét case, pretty much everyone has a theory on what happened to Madeline. Once called "the most heavily-reported missing person case in modern history", Madeline's disappearance is nearing its 10th anniversary, and a docuseries could reinvestigate every piece of evidence, re-interview every relevant person, and hopefully find some answers and bring whoever's responsible to justice.
5 Elisa Lam
The case: Elisa Lam was discovered dead in the water tank of the Cecil hotel in L.A. after guests reported that the water smelled and tasted weird. Shortly thereafter, security footage from her final hours alive surfaced online, and boy is it weird.
Why it deserves a series: The circumstances of this case are just so weird. The hotel itself has a very strange history—Elizabeth Smart - aka The Black Dahlia - reportedly stayed at the hotel before being murdered in 1947. Serial killer Richard Ramirez - aka the Night Stalker - also stayed at the hotel while he was committing murders, and his copycat, Jack Unterweger, did the same. The hotel has also been the site of many suicides of guests.
As for Elisa, no one knows how she ended up on the roof - let alone in the water tank. Hotel management have said the door to the roof is always locked and is not accessible by guests. Was she mentally ill? Was she murdered? Was she haunted? These are all theories a docuseries could explore.
OJ Simpson: Made in America makes its debut on SBS tonight, continuing Monday nights at 8:30pm.