Whether you’re scrolling for something to watch on Netflix or flipping through channels on your TV, it’s hard to miss the many popular crime shows. The genre is getting a lot of buzz these days, but how realistic are these beloved courtroom dramas?
Viewers are drawn to shows like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Law & Order for the chance to escape into the world of law for an hour. But, are these courtroom dramas anything like real life? Without a doubt, they’ve greatly influenced how the general public perceives the justice system. Similarly, powerful documentaries have swayed public opinion on divisive issues.
If you’re looking for something to watch but want to make sure your show has merit, check out the list below…
Here are 5 Must-Watch Crime TV Shows
Set in the Big Apple (New York City) at a fictional law firm, Suits is about a college dropout named Mike Ross who manages to talk his way into a law associate position despite having never actually attended law school.
While it’s unlikely a college dropout could fool a big-time lawyer like Harvey Specter in real life, lawyers agree that Suits is a fairly accurate depiction. The most realistic scenes, however, will probably be the ones playing when you decide it’s a good time to go and make popcorn.
Theatrics make for good TV, but real lawyers will tell you that judges despise drama in their courtrooms. In general, the more boring a scene in Suits is, the more authentic it is likely to be.
Screaming lawyers and gasping jurors are both Hollywood inventions. In fact, some legal procedures such as the arraignment hearing process take place in private settings with only the attorneys and a judge present.
You can stream Suits on Netflix in South Africa. It’s definitely one of the best Crime TV Shows you’ll watch.
Better Call Saul
If you’re interested in seeing what the life of a solo or small firm lawyer is like, then Better Call Saul is right up your alley. The spin-off prequel to Breaking Bad, this show highlights just how hard some lawyers have to hustle.
Within the first few episodes of the show, you will see just how much Saul Goodman wants to help people. Unfortunately, as any lawyer in a similar position will tell you, the limits and realities of operating a small business frequently get in the way.
While shows like Suits and Law & Order might lead you to think the majority of lawyers work in big firms or as prosecutors, most of them are actually solo or small firm lawyers like Saul Goodman.
Law & Order
TV dramas that show police arresting a criminal and immediately sending him to prison couldn’t be further from the truth. The wheels of justice turn slowly.
You might think a one-hour episode doesn’t have enough time to do the justice system, well, justice, but Law & Order is a solid representation of how the process actually transpires. Utilizing a two-part format, the show first focuses on the investigation of a crime followed by the prosecution of the defendant.
Law & Order highlights how the police department and district attorney’s office work together. Adding to the realism is the fact that real-life cases frequently inspire the plots.
The show is available on pay-per-view on Amazon Prime, click here to start streaming.
When you see the words police procedural, you’re not likely to think Andy Samberg. And yet in 2013, that match became one made in heaven when producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur created their police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine starring the Saturday Night Live alum as the lynchpin to Brooklyn’s 99th precinct.
Samberg’s Detective Jake Peralta and the ragtag group of detectives, officers, and leadership who worked the dayshift, quickly endeared themselves to audiences with their outrageous humor as well as their sensitive treatment of timely issues.
No-nonsense and therefore unintentionally funny Captain Raymond Holt, played by cop show veteran Andre Braugher, suffered years of sexual harassment at the hands of his colleagues for being gay — as well as black, as he is often quick to point out.
The effects of the #MeToo movement on the cast were not just on-screen. Proving that harassment of this kind really does impact men as well as women, star Terry Crews became a vocal supporter of #MeToo and continues to advocate for awareness for all. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has also tackled infertility, the LGBTQ spectrum and coming out, and PTSD, and it even survived the jump to a different network when it was canceled by Fox and picked up by NBC for its 6th and 7th seasons.
The show is available to stream on Netflix in South Africa.
Homicide: Life on the Street
Prior to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Braugher starred in a handful of crime-related shows from the Hack, where he played a police detective, to Thief, where he played the titular thief. Yet before his turn as Captain Holt, ask any fan of crime TV about Braugher, and they are likely to mention Homicide: Life on the Street.
Running from 1993-1999, the show was the jumping-off point for Law & Order’s John Munch, played by Richard Belzer. But it was Braugher and his character, Frank Pembleton, who left an impression, especially with critics. Braugher was the only main cast member to win an Emmy, and he and Belzer were two of just four actors to stay through the entire run of the series.
Homicide: Life on the Street, available only on DVD at this point, revolved around the workings of the Baltimore Police Department’s Homicide Unit. The show was ostensibly based on a book of non-fiction written by David Simon that also led to the creation of the Wire. Simon wrote for the Baltimore Sun and spent time following a homicide unit similar to the one created for the show. The show was known for its realism and frank dialogue as well as the acting prowess of its stars like Braugher.
Well, there you have it, my list of 5 Must-Watch Crime TV Shows. Which show should be on this list? We show should be removed from it? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Watch this space for updates in the Television category on Running Wolf’s Rant.