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 A newspaper editor lays out a page for Record American in this image from 20th Century Studios.
A newspaper editor for the Record American. (Image: 20th Century Studios)

Sometimes real life truly is stranger (and scarier) than fiction — or at least that’s the case with the recent surge of true-crime adaptations that span multiple streaming services. While not every adaptation is the closest to the truth or the most historically accurate, they capture one thing correctly every time: our captivation with true crime.

Whether you’re a true-crime junkie or a lover of high-quality crime TV, these shows and movies inspired by true-crime cases will get your heart pumping and intrigue you with their star-studded casts and theatrical flair. Let’s take a look at seven true-crime adaptations to watch in 2023.

‘Love & Death’ (Max)

Elizabeth Olsen in a red dress at an outdoor restaurant table in this image from David E. Kelley Productions.
Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen) (Image: David E. Kelley Productions)

On July 13th, 1980, Candy Montgomery brutally attacked Betty Gore with an ax, delivering around 41 fatal blows. This fact is undisputed, even acknowledged by Montgomery herself. However, the true details of the event remain known only to her. The story of Betty Gore's death has captivated true-crime enthusiasts for many years, primarily due to the astonishing transformation of an ordinary suburban mother into a murderer wielding an ax. Recently, it has become the subject of intense fascination — with Hulu's “Candy” premiering in 2022 and “Love & Death” available on Max in 2023, both offering their own interpretations of the chilling tale.

‘The Crowded Room’ (Apple TV+)

Tom Holland sitting against a striped wall in this image from Apple TV Plus.
Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland) (Image: Apple TV Plus)

“The Crowded Room” is a compelling true crime drama on Apple TV Plus inspired by the life of Billy Milligan, the first person in U.S. history to successfully use multiple personality disorder as a legal defense and subject of the non-fiction book “The Minds of Billy Milligan” by Daniel Keyes. The limited series is centered around a young man named Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland) who becomes the prime suspect in a 1979 shooting in Rockefeller Center. As the investigation unfolds, it delves deep into the intricate labyrinth of secrets concealed within the mind of the accused individual. For a more accurate exploration into the 24 personalities of Billy Milligan, take a look at Netflix’s docuseries “Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan.”

‘Waco: The Aftermath’ (Paramount Plus)

Michael Shannon in an FBI jacket and headset in this image from Spyglass Entertainment.
Gary Noesner (Michael Shannon) (Image: Spyglass Entertainment)

Available for streaming on Paramount Plus, “Waco: The Aftermath” is a five-episode limited series that delves into the aftermath of the 51-day siege that culminated in a violent standoff between Branch Davidians and federal agents. This resulted in the deaths of four federal agents and 82 members of the Branch Davidians cult (you can also watch the first installment, “Waco: Madman or Messiah” on Paramount Plus). In “Waco: The Aftermath,” viewers will uncover the fates of the survivors from the religious group. Those who watch will also gain insights into how these tragic events played a role in the radicalization of Timothy McVeigh (Alex Breaux), who was later responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

‘Boston Strangler’ (Hulu)

Keira Knightley walking down a dark hallway in this image from 20th Century Studios.
Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) (Image: 20th Century Studios)

Tune in to Hulu to peer into the work and lives of Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon). The pioneering reporters, in the early 1960s, defied the prevailing sexism of their time to connect the dots between the murders and break the story of the Boston Strangler, one of the city's most infamous serial killers. The newspaper-noir-style film is dark, gripping, and showcases a glimmer of feminist empowerment, especially during a time when women were the targets of this notorious murderer.

‘Reality’ (Max)

Sydney Sweeney in a white collared shirt in this image from Apple TV Plus.
Reality Winner (Sydney Sweeney) (Image: Apple TV Plus)

Dive into the true story of Reality Winner, former member of the United States Air Force, linguist contractor with the NSA who held the highest security clearance, and eventual whistleblower. In June 2017, she was apprehended for the act of printing classified information regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election and transmitting it to a news outlet. For her crime of the unauthorized release of classified documents, Winner received an unprecedented five-year sentence. As far as adaptations go, “Reality” on Apple TV Plus remains true-to-life, especially since the script is based on her interrogation transcript.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (Apple TV Plus)

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio sitting at a dinner table in this image from Paramount Pictures.
Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone) and Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) (Image: Paramount Pictures)

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is an epic true crime adaptation based on the 2017 book of the same name by journalist David Grann. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, the film delves into the real-life conspiracy behind the Osage Indian murders in the 1920s. With its stellar cast and masterful storytelling, “Killers of the Flower Moon” promises a cinematic and artful look into this dark chapter of American history. The film is set to hit theaters in early October 2023 and will be available to stream on Apple TV Plus.

‘Under the Bridge’ (Hulu)

Bridge in Saanich, British Columbia in this image from Daily Mail.
Bridge in Saanich, British Columbia (Image: Daily Mail)

At the time of writing this article, not much information has been shared about this adaptation, but viewers can plan to watch the series on Hulu in late 2023. Based on the eponymous book by Rebecca Godfrey, “Under the Bridge” tells the story of 14-year-old Reena Virk and her tragic murder by eight of her peers in 1997. Godfrey’s book is built on six years of research and interviews with the accused and brings certain topics to light, including the minds of Virk’s teenage murderers and the social tensions that provoked the killing.

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