Mystery Gems On Netflix You're Completely Missing Out On

What makes a mystery show work? I mean, obviously, a mystery show needs some element of the unknown to earn its junior mystery badge. But a real masterpiece of mystery story-telling needs a bit more than an unknown bad guy to become truly binge-worthy. Mystery gems have that added ingredient of making viewers care.

Making a Murderer is one Netflix mystery gem that excels at getting viewers too riled up to finish their popcorn. The show tells the story of Steven Avery, a man who was wrongly convicted of assault and attempted murder, and subsequently jailed for 18 years. Making a Murderer slaps its audience in the face with the uncomfortable idea that innocent people go to jail, and the goosebump-inducing follow-up question inevitably arises. What if that happened to me? But the mystery juju only gets darker when the story twists to reveal that Avery was in fact arrested again, this time for murder. Filmed over a full decade of unfolding events, Making a Murderer has that epic quality of forcing its viewers to continually change their minds.

Let's get fictional

True stuff is all well and good, but it's hard to beat a well-crafted mystery when it's built on a real premise but allowed to play fast and loose with the facts. Check out Mindhunter as exhibit A. Set in the late Seventies, Mindhunter tells the stories of a team of FBI psychologists who are working to unravel what makes a serial killer tick. This show is a period drama all the way, with an insane level of detail in recreating an authentic seventies vibe, right down to their clunky tech and cheap polyester suits. Interview scenes with such loopy and kill-happy luminaries as Charles Manson and Ed Kemper make the air crackle with slow-burning tension, but the real joy of this show is watching the characters grappling with the notion that maybe some people are killers simply because they enjoy killing. What makes a psychopath? That's where the real mystery lies.

Then there's American Vandal. This show took home a 2017 Peabody Award in the category of best parody, but to define it strictly as a parody is kind of misleading. American Vandal is a brilliant whodunnit, in which an amateur high school film student investigates two cases of vandalism in his high school. We're talking interviews, detective work, numerous layered conspiracy theories — the whole shebang. And all these mystery tropes collide playfully to deliver a delicious Scooby-Doo moment at the end of each series. Serial Podcast, eat your heart out.