Reality TV shows aren’t a new phenomenon; in fact, they’ve been around since the 1950’s. But they seem to run rampant on television today. Whether or not you’re a fan, they’re hard to escape.
Reality shows aren’t all about keeping up with the Kardashians, seeing who can last on the island the longest or which fashion star is the best. In fact, if you’re interested in reality-based crime shows, there are plenty of options for you on Netflix.
Netflix rarely offers every season of a show—but keep in mind that they often add shows and seasons, which means that more episodes of your favorite could show up soon. Of course, that also means that any show on this list may be removed at any time.
Take a look, but keep in mind that reality shows aren’t exactly known for being … well, real.
Reality-Based Crime Shows on Netflix–Take Your Pick
What’s available: 1 season, 3 episodes
What to expect: Photojournalist Mark Allen Johnson tackles seedy subjects in this series that focuses on the criminals behind the crime. Prostitution, drugs and car theft are all explored in blurry-faced 42-minute chunks. The New York Post reports that Johnson consulted with lawyers about what he could and could not do while observing the crimes, lest he become an accessory to the crime.
2. Behind Bars
What’s available: 1 season, 4 episodes
What to expect: The Discovery Channel went inside prisons in Washington, Ohio, Kansas and Tennessee to see what life’s like for both the prisoners and the guards. The show explores gangs inside prisons, the effects of solitary confinement and unruly prisoners. While no reality show is totally uncensored, Johnson County (Kan.) said in a press release that they allowed the show “unfettered access” to deputies and willing inmates.
What’s available: 1 documentary (93 mins.)
What to expect: This documentary explores the infamous rivalry between two Los Angeles gangs, the Crips and the Bloods. Their feud has gone on for more than 40 years and has caused more than 15,000 deaths. In addition to a history of the feud, former and modern-day gang members from both sides discuss their experiences.
What’s available: 1 season, 6 episodes
What to expect: Lt. Joe Kenda, a retired 23-year-veteran of the Colorado Springs Police Department, narrates the stories of cases in his career. He walks the viewer through the entirety of the case, from the 911 call to how it was solved, as history is reenacted. Cases include two separate incidences of women being strangled and left in their cars and a church deacon murdered in a park.
What’s available: 1 documentary (60 mins.)
What to expect: If you’ve ever wanted an inside look at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), this is your chance. This documentary, filmed in the shadow of 9/11, focuses on terrorism and how the FBI was handling it in 2003. You’ll also learn about the FBI’s history—like how the FBI and its first director, J. Edgar Hoover, built files on prominent Americans, including Martin Luther King, Jr., presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Marilyn Monroe and Mafioso Sam Giancana.
What’s available: 1 season, 6 episodes
What to expect: This show might be perfect for you if you’re interested in both law enforcement and nature. This Animal Planet series focuses on the Maine Warden Service as they patrol the state’s land and waters with a focus on protecting animals and preserving habitats. You’ll see moose, baby seals and bear cubs being rescued or corralled, depending on the circumstances.
What’s available: 1 season, 12 episodes
What to expect: Depending on your perspective, pairing up parolees and the sometimes-feared pit bulls may or may not be a good idea. But it’s exactly what the Villalobos Rescue Center does. The parolees work with the center’s more than 200 pit bulls before the dogs are placed for adoption. This series follows the parolees and the center’s founder, Tia Torres, through the ups and downs of shelter life.
What’s available: 1 season, 8 episodes
What to expect: In 2011, women made up 16 percent of police and sheriff’s patrol officers, so women in law enforcement shouldn’t be a surprise. This show focuses on five female law enforcement members in Dallas. You’ll get an insider’s look into their lives—both work and personal. With a population of 1.2 million, Dallas sees its fair share of crime, and these women help keep it in check.
Years: 2009 & 2010
What’s available: 2 seasons, 19 episodes
What to expect: This series focuses on real-life homicide cases, walking the viewer through them with accounts from the detectives and FBI agents that actually worked the cases. Expect stories such as the murder of two great-grandparents, a woman found dead in a church and a teen found dead in a sewer.
What’s available: 2 seasons, 22 episodes
What to expect: Though this series obviously couldn’t be shot in real time, it does profile real-life stalking stories. Dr. Michelle Ward leads viewers through each story and lends opinions about the psychology behind the crimes. Cases include a single mother harassed by dozens of telephone calls a day, an aspiring actress who’s staked by another actress and a beauty pageant contestant troubled by a man who wants to ruin her reputation.
What’s available: 1 season, 2 episodes
What to expect: Broward County, Fla. is the scene for this canine-focused series. Although Netflix currently only offers two episodes, this show takes a unique look at dogs who track criminals, not drugs. Both episodes focus on burglars who’ve fled the scene.
After you check out the shows …
There are plenty of crime shows on Netflix to hold your interest, but don’t let it eat up all your time. Now that you’ve seen the crimes and criminals and law enforcement officials that make up the world of law enforcement, you’re ready for your next step.
If you’re thinking that it’s about time you followed your interest in law enforcement, check out the differences between a Patrol Officer vs. Sherriff’s Deputy vs. Correctional Officer to find the right area of law enforcement for you.