Oh, the holidays.
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, full of family and friends and holiday cheer. There will be cranberry sauce, and Grandma’s baked cookies, and presents under the tree. You will sit by the fire holding a warm cup of cocoa as cousin Jimmy talks about how amazing his new job is. Your sister’s new baby is just adorable. Look at the baby’s tiny feet wrapped in reindeer slippers!
You know what sucks about all that though? Nobody wants to hear about what a liar killer Henry Lee Lucas was! Cousin Jimmy seems repulsed at true crime in general. Boring!
Sure, it’s an absolute blessing to receive so much love around the holidays, the time of year when the bright parts of humanity shine as strongly as the star atop your Christmas tree. But you know what you can do to even out all this gag-worthy holiday happiness?
Pour yourself a glass of red wine and binge on some content that shows the dark underbelly of human nature. Come on, you know you want to! In fact, you know you’re going to need to after dealing with all that mushy stuff!
We’ve compiled a list of 20 things to binge on before 2020 during the holidays.
This one could actually bring you closer with your relatives, as plenty of people (aka your uncle) say they hate true crime but love mafia movies. Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" is the perfect mix of a mob movie with true crime elements.
"The Irishman" follows the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the influential union leader and mob associate who infamously vanished in 1975. So-called mob hitman Frank Sheeran later claimed credit for his killing (although it's never been proven) and much of the movie's plot is based on Sheeran's allegations.
Regardless of whether or not you believe Sheeran's often bombastic claims, the movie has plenty of very true parts, including the falling out between Hoffa and the mob and Hoffa's hatred of the Kennedy family.
The movie is streaming on Netflix and in addition to the mafia and true crime stuff, there are also a few takeaways about family relationships.
Homicide for the Holidays
In order to quench your thirst for horrific holiday true crime stories, we at Oxygen have some new “Homicide for the Holiday” episodes for you.
An episode called “Christmas Heartbreak” airs Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. In that heartbreaking episode, a couple is found murdered inside their home on Christmas morning. A single palm print appears to be the only piece of evidence at the grisly scene.
Then three days after Christmas, on Dec. 28, tune in to “Death in Santa Claus” on Oxygen at 7 p.m. to learn about a family massacred inside their Santa Claus, Georgia home. The three young surviving daughters are the key to convicting their killer.
Each hour-long episode examines a devastating holiday-themed case. It's the perfect way to balance out holiday cheer with holiday horror.
You: Season 2
The first season of “You,” (yes, it's fictional, but still) follows a creep in love as he does the things that creeps in love do: stalk and manipulate the one they purport to love. He’s not just a creep, though, he’s also murderous — which doesn't end well when his love interest finds out.
In the second season, Joe the creep moves from New York to Los Angeles for a fresh start but love finds him again. Literally, a person named Love. Season 2 premieres on Netflix the day after Christmas, so if you're depleted from all the Christmas love, stream this kind of “love.”
Cold Case Hammarskjöld
"This could either be the world's biggest murder mystery or the world's most idiotic conspiracy theory," the trailer for "Cold Case Hammarskjöld" starts off.
The documentary investigates the mysterious 1961 plane crash that killed United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld on his way to the Congo. Danish journalist Mads Brügger investigates the bombastic theory that Hammarskjöld was assassinated by South African white supremacists who later allegedly helped spread HIV across Africa. Oh, and like most conspiracy theories, the CIA was involved.
The doc takes the viewers down a riveting rabbit hole of dead ends and red herrings as Brügger tries to dissect the truth from the conspiracies. It's available on Hulu on Dec. 19.
Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator
May we suggest a binge of this after hearing your aunt talk about her chakras during the holidays? "Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator" dives into the dark side of yoga.
Bikram Choudhury, the man who created hot yoga or Bikram yoga, has been accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women. The documentary, streaming on Netflix, details Choudhury's rise to fame as a yogi before the onslaught of horrific accusations came to light.
The Disappearance of the Millbrook Twins
If you haven't had a change to check out this Oxygen documentary yet, which debuted before Thanksgiving, now's a great time. Warning: Have some tissues handy because "The Disappearance of the Millbrook Twins" is particularly heartbreaking.
The doc revisits Dannette and Jeannette Millbrook, a pair of 15-year-old African American twins, who vanished in 1990. Despite being one of the few cases of missing twins in American history, their disappearance gained little media attention and many question whether it was properly investigated. For decades, their family pleaded for help, but the case went cold.
Former federal prosecutor Laura Coates and former Homicide Detective Page Reynolds took a deep dive back into the recently reopened case for the doc, and in doing so encounter both frustrating and heartbreaking hurdles.
You can watch the entire episode for free on Oxygen's website.
Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
This true crime documentary, which drops on Netflix on Dec. 18, shows a real life cat and mouse game between cyber sleuths and a man who posted a sadistic videos that showed him abusing cats online. After he released “1 Boy 2 Kittens” (it's as bad it sounds), he kept on uploading more videos of him hurting cats.
As animal lovers attempted to hunt him down, he posted another video where his crimes escalated horrifically: In “1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick,” he killed a human.
“Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” shows how murderer Luka Magnotta broke the unspoken internet rule of not hurting kitties and how it inspired sleuths to hunt him down.
While “American Woman” does not appear to be based on any specific true crime case, the plot feels like it could be.
"They are not going to go back to the way they were; you make due with what's left," single mother Debra Callahan ominously tells her teen daughter before she vanishes from their small blue-collar town Pennsylvania town. Sienna Miller plays the strong mama as she fights to find her missing daughter. Added bonus: Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad” plays her love interest.
Stream this movie on Amazon Prime.
Truth Be Told
Speaking of Aaron Paul, he’s also in this fictional television series “Truth Be Told.” He plays convicted murderer Warren Cave who has been behind bars for years in a case that seems to draw similarities from the Adnan Syed case. Octavia Spencer plays Poppy Parnell, the host of a "Serial"-like podcast who is re-examining how she portrayed Cave when she was a young reporter. The show is available to stream on Apple TV+.
Surviving R. Kelly
"Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” will premiere as a three-night special event beginning Jan. 2, so this is a great time to re-watch the first explosive doc. The disturbing and often heartbreaking Lifetime six-part episode is still up on Netflix and available for streaming.
“Surviving R. Kelly” shined a bright light on the years worth of sexual misconduct allegations made against the "Bump n Grind" singer, showing R. Kelly's rise to stardom and documenting his illicit marriage to a teenage Aaliyah, as well as his 2002 indictment for child pornography and the more recent accusations of him grooming young women before keeping then as sex slaves.
When They See Us
The holidays are always a good time to see justice finally find its way, even if comes much too late.
“Whey They See Us” is the popular and heartbreaking four-part series from Ava DuVernay which reexamined how five young teens of color became victims of a vicious and false narrative during the "Central Park 5" case, one of the most publicized cased of the 1980s. The boys were wrongly convicted of raping a woman in Central Park and it took years before they were exonerated.
The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park
Former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein got slammed for her role in the Central Park 5 case, especially after the release of "When They See Us." Funnily enough, she also makes an appearance in the newly-released true crime doc "The Preppy Murder," also about a 1980s Central Park crime.
Robert Chambers, then a popular teenage prep school athlete, shot to infamy after he was accused of killing 18-year-old Jennifer Levin. The docu-series shows how Chambers was portrayed favorably in the media as a handsome boy from a good family while Levin was victim-shamed during the sensational trial.
All episodes are available for binging on AMC.
"The Act,” a Hulu show, is a fictional anthology series, with each season focusing on a different true crime. The first and only season that has been released thus far is based on the real murder of Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard. She had forced her young daughter Gypsy Rose to act sick and to endure unnecessary surgeries in a now-infamous case of suspected Munchausen by proxy.
Gypsy Rose and her online boyfriend then hatched up a plan to help her be freed of her abusive mother: Unfortunately, that plan included murder.
It is streaming on Hulu.
The streaming Netflix series “The Politician” follows the turbulent life of an affluent California teenager in his quest to become class president. There is romance and comedy and betrayal and parts of the show even feature musical elements reminiscent of “Glee.” But, best of all, it has a lot of true crime references.
The Confession Killer
This one has been on Netflix for a bit, but it you’ve been busy and haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, now is the time to binge!
The five-part true crime docu-series “The Confession Killer” details how Henry Lee Lucas manipulated law enforcement into believing that he was the world’s most prolific serial killer. He claimed to have killed hundreds, around 600 at one point, and took credit for real murders he had nothing to do with. Texas Rangers even established a Henry Lee Lucas Task Force who were soon burdened with a myriad of false confessions.
Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Here's another Netflix series that features the confessions of a killer. “Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” features previously unheard interviews with notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. The conversations were recorded by journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth in 1980 as Bundy sat on death row.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Speaking of Bundy, there's another take on him which is streaming on Netflix. "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" is a ficitonal movie told through the point of view of Bundy’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer — known in the movie as Liz Kendall — as she learns that her charming boyfriend is probably a serial killer.
“The idea of using the Bundy story from this different point of view is a way of telling a cautionary tale for a new generation, that you need to really understand who you are getting into bed with, metaphorically or literally,” director Joe Berlinger told Oxygen.com earlier this year. “I think that’s the lesson I want my daughters to have.”
The Devil Next Door
Ohio grandfather or notorious Nazi war criminal known as Ivan the Terrible?
The docu-series "The Devil Next Door" shows how the latter part of Cleveland autoworker John Demjanjuk's life was ripped apart by war criminal accusations.
Was he really a bloodthirsty former concentration camp worker who gleefully killed person after person or was he just an innocent Ukrainian man who fled the war?
The docu-series, full of twists and turns, is available for streaming on Netflix.
Murder in the Bayou
“Murder in the Bayou” is a five-part true crime docu-series which dives into the unsolved case of eight murder victims from the small bayou town. All eight women, known as the "Jeff Davis 8," were killed over the course of four years and their bodies were found dumped in drainage canals and back roads. A possible ninth victim is also revisited for possible connections.
This riveting docu-series puts forth disturbing accusations by victims’ loved ones in the search for justice and truth.
Available to stream on Showtime.
"Dream/Killer" has similarities to "Making a Murderer." Not only does the documentary follow a quest for justice, but its protagonist later got the same post-conviction lawyer as Steven Avery.
Kathleen Zellner helped Ryan Ferguson after he was wrongfully sentenced to prison for a murder he didn't commit: Ferguson's friend claimed that he and Ferguson killed a man, two years after the crime, and it was his testimony alone that resulted in Ferguson's unjust conviction. The doc shows how she and Ferguson's father took on the justice system after it failed their client and son.
The documentary is streaming on Netflix.
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