'The Preppy Murder': What's Happening in the True Crime Genre

AMC's three-part docuseries The Preppy Murder kicked off this week, with the finale airing tonight (November 15). In 1986, an 18-year-old girl by the name of Jennifer Levin was found dead in NYC's Central Park. And it soon surfaced her friend, Robert Chambers, had committed the murder. He didn't deny it, but blamed the murder on circumstances:


Chambers claimed he killed her by accident and it was in self-defense. Levin was portrayed to be a sex-hungry teen, who trapped Chambers in the park. This was one of the first high-profile cases of victim blaming. In episode one, we hear an investigator say to Chambers, "Well, she's dead. And you're not. Something happened." Levin's family gets the chance for her side of the story to be told honestly with this investigative true crime series.

While grim, these eight docuseries and dramas depict stories that may not have ever been told fully:

1. Appropriate Adult


The 2011 miniseries Appropriate Adult follows the courtroom drama that saw serial killers Fred and Rose West, played by Dominic West and Monica Dolan, be brought to justice. Emily Watson portrays social worker Janet Leach, who acted as an "appropriate adult" for Fred West as he did not have the capacity due to his illiteracy.

2. The Jinx


Robert Durst, the son of a real estate mogul and heir to great wealth, was accused of three murders but never convicted. Years following the alleged murders, Durst agreed to let filmmakers follow and interview him, which turned into the six-part HBO series The Jinx. The filmmakers believed Durst missed the limelight, as said in the series, hence his agreeing to talk to them. This may have been a grave decision, risking his freedom.

3. American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson


The O.J. Simpson drama, starring Cuba Gooding Jr.John TravoltaSarah Paulson and David Schwimmer, takes us through the trial of the former NFL legend who was accused of killing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her presumed lover Ron Goldman in 1994. In this retelling, we see what happened behind closed doors.

4. Dirty John


John Meehan (Eric Bana) earned the nickname "Dirty John" from his friends because of his unscrupulous ways. But when Debra Newell (Connie Britton) met this handsome anesthesiologist, she had no idea of his background. The two sprinted through a courtship, with him moving into her home and taking over her life. Luckily, for her sake, her two twentysomething daughters could see through his facade. 

5. Code Blue: Murder

Code Blue: Murder follows the Specialist Crime Units in South Wales, U.K. As viewers, we're there when the phone call comes in, the detectives are sent out, going all the way through the investigation and to the trial.

6. Little Boy Blue


Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire) portrays real life detective Dave Kelly, who leads the search for the murderer of 11-year-old Rhys Jones. The series takes place in 2007, set in Liverpool, England. 

7. Lorena


Lorena Bobbit shocked the world in 1993, when she cut off her husband's penis, allegedly following years of abuse. At the time, a reporter covering the trial predicted, "Guilt or innocence will come down to who the jurors believe." The four-part series is a reinvestigation of what led up to this turn of events. 

8. The Act


When Gypsy Rose Blanchard's (Joey King) mother is found murdered, the truths revealed are even more shocking than the crime itself. It turns out Gypsy was led to believe that she was stricken with cancer, but in fact, her mother (Patricia Arquette) fabricated the disease. In an attempt to gain her freedom from her controlling mother, Gypsy became desperate, seeing only one way out. 

Do you think the true crime genre is a way for victims to have a voice?