Top Ten TV Series For The Disturbed

I admit, I’m not the most normal person around. My ‘light bedtime reading’ is serial killer books. I fall asleep on the couch watching Evil Most Wanted and Bizarre Murders. If you’re a bit off-kilter like me, here’s some recommendations I think you might like!

1- Criminal Minds, streaming on Netflix.

While the show has had some issues, especially in later seasons, it’s still a stand-out for me. The interpersonal relationships between the team are interspersed with a “Madman of the Week” drama, leading to some truly explosive moments. A lot of the themes and killers are based on real-life situations, so it’s great to watch and spot the influences. I love the quotes at the beginning and end of each episode, as well.

2- MindHunters, streaming on Netflix.

I’ve previously reviewed the show here on my blog, but I have to make a plug for it here as well. While a lot has been glamorized for television, it’s interesting to watch how profiling and the BAU got started, and the hurdles they had to jump through to be recognized as a legit segment in criminal profiling. The actor who plays legendary Ed Kemper is truly mesmerizing… you have to constantly stop and remind yourself that he is an actor, and not the actual serial killer. His performance is almost spot on perfect, and leaves you creeped out long after the “stop” button is hit.

3- Supernatural, streaming on Netflix.

One of my “it’s paranormal but you have to watch it” shows. I love those Winchester boys! The thing is, it’s not completely all about monsters. You get to see what a team of hunters does to work together, how agencies deal with “renegades”. Supernatural shows how much of a difference having family, friends, and allies makes when you’re in the trenches. The research and investigation utilized for the creatures is top-notch if you’re like me and enjoy anything spooky or terrifying, but at its heart, it’s a story about two brothers learning to survive in a world they weren’t prepared for. When it comes down to it, that’s a lesson that can be utilized for almost any genre successfully, when you need to see just how strong those bonds are and how to best test them.

4- Inside the Criminal Mind, streaming on Netflix.

I started out studying abnormal psychology and criminology with the dream of one day becoming a profiler myself. Disease and disability stole that from me, but I still find a way to use the knowledge I gained from it in my writing. To effectively write a character, you need to be able to figure out their motivations, their needs. Why are they doing what they’re doing? What was the trigger that set them off? How can you understand their behavior and learn from it, in order to anticipate what they’ll do next? ItCM deep dives into the psychological and behavioral traits that make up some of the most prolific killers ever profiled. It’s perfect for research, and for learning more about what makes these kinds of people tick.

5- The FBI Files, streaming on Hulu.

When you write crime based stories, you need to keep up on the latest advances in order to make your writing realistic. For that, I utilize The FBI Files. Going over some of the most baffling cases in the FBI’s repertoire, the series gives you a behind the scenes look at the forensics and state of the art laboratories used in cracking them. With re-enactments and interviews, you can get a well-rounded view of everything, from the initial crime, to the investigation, and ultimately, to how it was solved. It’s so much fun for me to try to solve the case along with them, to see if my guesses were correct.

6- Deadly Women, streaming on Hulu.

Women generally kill for far different reasons than man. They also usually choose less invasive methods of killing, like poisons or drugs. You can see it in the names, as well. Where men are serial killers and psychopaths with names like The Gainesville Ripper and The Milwaukee Cannibal, women are typically referred to as things like Black Widows and Angels of Death. One notable name was “The Giggling Granny”, the moniker given to Nannie Doss, who killed 11 people. When writing villains/criminals, it’s important to understand the distinction between male and female killers, what is different between their motivations, their methods, their conviction rates, and how they’re treated in the media and by law enforcement. This series goes into all of it, making it an indisputable resource on female killers.

7- Homicide Hunter, streaming on Hulu.

When I write about crime, I’m generally writing from the point of view of the officer who is tasked with bringing the killer or culprit to justice. For that, I need to know their inner thoughts… what they thought, how they felt. Were they having problems compartmentalizing, did the case haunt them until they found a resolution? Homicide Hunter is focused on Lt. Joe Kenda, who goes through some of the cases that kept him up at night, sharing his vivid memories of the crime scene, the aftermath, and how the handled the case once it landed on his desk. It’s invaluable research for me as I’m writing.

8- The Traffikers, available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

This series honestly disturbed me. You don’t realize how bad some things are in the world until you get to watch it undoctored in an expose. Some of the facts shown in this documentary series were hard to believe, but further research backed them up. It leaves you hopeless that anything can be done, since some of the traffickers are so damn brazen. The Dark Side of Adoption and Organs for Sale were particularly eye-opening, but I recommend all of them. Seeing the things that go on in this world mostly unchecked may be a tough pill to swallow, but the series does offer hope- showing those fighting against it, one day, one batch of contraband at a time.

9- Kolchak the Nightstalker, available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

While this show focuses on more paranormal cases, I really like it for the wit and sarcasm, as well as the unorthodox way Kolchak handles his ‘cases’. As a news reporter, he’s not supposed to be investigating anything, but things just seem to happen around him. Well that, and he’s nosy. The way he pieces the weirdest clues together and eventually figures things out is a talent that I like to use in my own writing, so it’s always great to sit down and re-watch this older classic series and re-live one of my first paranormal series I fell in love with.

10- Carnival Row, streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Another paranormal type series, this one was interesting to me as it dealt with a lot of social and political elements that many don’t. You saw the clear class divide and racism the characters went through, the distrust of people that are “different”. It’s always a sharp reminder when you see crimes in a TV show and the populace immediately turns on the “outsiders” as the likely culprits, knowing that happens in our own lives as well.

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