Somewhere, somehow, a proud genius has probably made a major breakthrough in the realm of cybernetics this week. I, for one, spent my time binge-watching all 10 episodes of Mindhunters, TV’s latest crime drama, in one sitting.
Jonathan Groff is the wide-eyed and glory-chasing FBI agent Holden, trying to get into the psyche of serial killers in the 1970s without losing himself completely. The show ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so as we (impatiently) wait for season two, we round up our favourite crime dramas of the decade that call for repeat binge-watches.
Luther — 2010 (4 seasons)
“If you haven’t seen Luther, you’re a fake Idris Elba fan.” Wise words from a former boss. Before Hollywood came knocking, Luther launched Elba in the UK. The detective drama asks its viewers to swim in morally grey waters, and delve into the (disturbingly delightful) psyche of its more questionable characters. Elba is incredible as the Luther — reckless, confident and raging for a bigger purpose.
Peaky Blinders — 2013 (3 seasons)
Our beloved protagonists are a gang in 1919 Birmingham who do illegal things and yet care deeply about their friends and family. It’s beautifully shot, stunningly acted (Cillian Murphy deserves every award), and leaves you rooting for people who aren’t exactly saints. Character-driven crime shows are always a treat, but I’ve yet to find one as effective as Peaky Blinders.
Broadchurch — 2013 (3 seasons)
This small town detective drama is as picturesque as it is unsettling. Every time DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) picks up calls only with, ‘What?’, my inner surly introvert cheered. His grudging friendship with DS Elie Miller (Olivia Colman) will make your heart sing, too — it’s laugh-out-loud funny and rip-your-heart-out sad. Word of discretion: first two seasons deal with the murder of a child, and the third with rape.
Real Detective — 2016 (2 seasons)
This underrated eight-episode series interviews real detectives, who worked on actual crimes, whilst simultaneously presenting said crimes via dramatic re-enactments (Devon Sawa, ultimate Canadian teen crush, features in one episode). The stories can be pretty gruesome, but mostly, it’s eye-opening to see the torment and trauma that the detectives who studied these cases still feel, years later.
Riverdale — 2017 (2 seasons)
I might get skewered for including Riverdale in a best-of-crime listicle, but sometimes you just need a stylised teenage murder mystery to break the monotony of the gory cop drama. Based on Archie Comics, the show deals with the suspicious death of a high school student, and the strange little town that has to pick itself up in the aftermath. Great acting here from many new faces, including Samoan-Kiwi actor KJ Apa as Archie.
How to Get Away With Murder — 2014 (4 seasons)
Viola Davis is masterful protagonist Annalise Keating, a criminal defence lawyer and professor who, along with a select few of her students, becomes embroiled in a murder case too close to home. Nearly four seasons in, we’re still asking ourselves what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s morally sound while we root for the unlikeliest of characters.
Top of the Lake — 2013 (2 seasons)
There’s a missing person in Top of the Lake, but that’s hardly the most interesting thing about it. One of the few crime shows with a woman in the forefront, the show revolves around Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss), who becomes fixated on the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl, and must navigate a remote New Zealand area in her quest to find the truth.
True Detective — 2014 (2 seasons)
It’s still a massive let-down that True Detective, which set itself up for greatness in its first season, toppled right on its face in the second. (Each season stands on its own with new characters.) In season one, despite the done-to-death trope of two macho men at odds with each other partnering up to tackle crime, the show stood out for its artistry and philosophical approach. Matthew McCounaghy and Woody Harrelson were captivating, funny and heartbreaking to watch.
Sherlock — 2010 (4 seasons)
Nearly a decade since it aired, Sherlock is basically considered a classic. It came a time when not much else was happening in detective dramas, and brought with it clever writing, a modernised take on an old classic, and rousing performances from our leads Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Early episodes remain the strongest, but we can still hope for a comeback.