If you’ve burned through the classics like Tiger King: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem (and the dramatized series Joe Vs Carole), Nightstalker, and Making a Murderer on Netflix, HBO Max contains several engrossing true-crime series that are worth the watch. Whether it be con artists, murderers, or Hollywood stars, every kind of criminal under the sun is examined with unflinching detail. Addictive and devastating, these series shine the spotlight on important societal issues and prove why it’s essential to tell these stories. Without further ado, here are the best true crime shows on HBO.
For more recommendations, check out our list of the best movies and shows on HBO, the best documentaries on HBO, and the best true crime series on Netflix.
Director: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte
Who knew that the Mcdonald’s Monopoly game had so much true crime behind it all? McMillions looks at the fraud behind the corrupted McDonald’s Monopoly game from 1989 to 2001. The con, which totaled $24 million, involved not only the FBI but everything from PR firms to the mob. The true winning ingredient of McMillions is its colorful cast of characters, which sometimes robs the limelight away from the actual victims of this fraud. Directed by James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte, the six-episode documentary follows both the perpetrators of the crime and the law enforcement hunting it down. Chief among its cast of characters is FBI agent Doug Mathews, who at one point quite literally shows up in a golden suit to emulate a golden French fry and nearly destroys an undercover operation. As the series chases after the elusive “Uncle Jerry” it becomes clearer that beneath the surface of this wacky heist there are real victims who have had their lives affected by these people taking advantage of the system set in place by McDonald’s. For those who aren’t interested in murder in their true crime, McMillions is the perfect dose of weird and intriguing to binge-watch. — Therese Lacson
Behind Closed Doors (2019)
Creator: P.A. Carter
Behind Closed Doors is a gripping two-part documentary series from P.A. Carter, which explores a horrific double murder that occurred in Noida, India, in 2008. In a case that continues to captivate a nation, Behind Closed Doors delicately peels back the layers of the murder of Aarushi Talwar, a 13-year-old girl, as well as her family’s live-in housekeeper, Hemraj Banjade, who was originally suspected in the girl’s death. A twisted story with horrific circumstances, Behind Closed Doors examines the facts of the still unsolved crime. – Yael Tygiel
Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults (2020)
Director: Clay Tweel
If you burned through series like Netflix’s Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, Scientology and the Aftermath, or one of the several NXIVM-themed documentaries, you’re sure to become invested in Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults. The series explores the UFO religion Heaven’s Gate, which was led by Marshall Applewhite. Featuring never-before-seen footage of the cult, the series explores the organization’s bizarre beliefs and rituals leading up to the tragic mass suicide in 1997. – Taylor Gates