When it gets really cold outside, there’s nothing quite like cozying up and hibernating with a long list of shows, films, and books to keep warm. Be it a complex murder mystery or a decidedly weird true crime docuseries: There’s a veritable cornucopia of content waiting for you on streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu—and more.
Leave it to us to steer you to the weird, the shows that are so irresistibly strange, you can’t help but binge them.
Brand New Cherry Flavor
Based on the Todd Grimson novel of the same name and created by showrunner Nick Antosca (Antlers, Channel Zero), Brand New Cherry Flavor drops viewers into the oft familiar—but always larger than life—celebrity LA scene culture. It’s the height of Hollywood, with aspiring director Lisa N. Nova looking to find funding (and her footing) in the industry. When a shady producer shows his true cards, she seeks revenge. This isn’t your usual revenge plot; the series brings in curses, witchcraft, zombies—and copious amounts of kittens.
We can never get enough of strange crimes and enigmatic detectives hellbent on solving them. In Absentia, FBI special agent Emily Byrne disappears and is declared dead “in absentia.” She turns up six years later, nearly dead and with amnesia. Imagine returning to your life only to find that everything has moved on without you—your family, your friends, your job? Byrne takes this head-on while a new series of deadly murders plagues the city of Boston.
How about a little true crime? Evil Genius centers around the 2003 murder of Brian Wells, a pizza delivery man who was reportedly blackmailed into committing a bank heist with a bomb strapped to his neck. Structured around testimony and interviews with two people of interest in the cold case, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong and Bill Rothstein, the docuseries is odd right down to the title, written to dig more than truth. It’s one of those shows that reminds us of just how far people will go to dodge the desperation that comes with poverty and greed.
If you like your mystery and intrigue paranormal and psychological, Sense8 is likely to check all the right boxes. The premise involves a deep psychic connection between eight strangers from all across the world. Their sole connection involves their mother, someone named Angelica, who commits suicide as a means of avoiding being captured. Deemed “sensates,” the eight characters quickly see through the veil of normalcy as they discover a deep web of governmental and existential intrigue underneath society itself.
When you have David Fincher on as executive producer, you know the show’s going to be a dark and complex narrative complete with a grimy, drab color palette. In Mindhunter, we are introduced to methodical FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they work in the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Together, they research imprisoned serial killers to make sense of how their minds work. In doing so, their hope is to be able to use psychological insight to solve ongoing serial murder cases. Mindhunter has two seasons under its belt with the prospect of a third. There’s more than enough to binge and once you get started, you’ll quickly find yourself following Ford and Tench’s efforts with breathless ease.
Surely to satisfy your craving for some Korean drama while also taking things into truly weird places, Black centers around the possession of detective Han Moo-gang by way of “Grim Reaper 444,” who seeks out another reaper who broke the rules of heaven by falling in love with a mortal woman. Kang Ha-ram is able to see “shadows of death” and becomes Han Moo-gang’s partner as they try to save people’s lives all the while also falling in love. It’s equal parts mystery and paranormal, complete with the budding romance that acts as a tenet of Korean drama.
Don’t F**k with Cats
One of the more disturbing shows on this list, Don’t F**k with Cats is a docuseries that dares to explore a particularly notorious video uploaded by Luka Magnotta whose disturbing video depicted his murder of two kittens with shameless glee. The internet went wild, with numerous sleuths seeking out his true identity. Their efforts lead to the prosecution of Magnotta, but not because of the kittens; Magnotta murdered Jun Lin, an international student. Don’t F**k with Cats explores the oddity of human depravity all the while demonstrating the sheer will of a group when they won’t take no for an answer.
It’s great to see so many international shows and films making it to streamers like Netflix and Hulu. Trese is a highly original animated series from the Philippines, based on a comic series by author Budjette Tan. It is set in one of the most bustling metropolises of the country, Manila, where creatures out of Filipino folklore live—much like the fables in Fable—in the open among humans. Our vigilant protagonist, Alexandra Trese, is a sort of investigator and clairvoyant acting as a protector against the supernational forces brimming from folklore. It’s a lot of fun and decidedly odd.
Many cheered the day it was announced that the classic and highly influential documentary show, Unsolved Mysteries, with the gruff, ominous, and enigmatic Robert Stack hosting each documentary short, made it to streaming services. And just in time! It’s essential viewing. Growing up in the 90s, my early encounters with the series chilled me to the core. It did right what so many still do wrong: Presenting the bare facts of cold cases in such a way that reveals the inner fear and mystery that keeps people up at night.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
Author Michelle McNamara spent years and countless nights investigating the Golden State Killer, also known as Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a serial killer and rapist responsible for 13 murders, 50 rapes, and 120 burglaries across California during 1974 and 1986. McNamara dragged the depths of the internet to eventually do what nobody else was able to do: Reveal the Golden State Killer’s identity and full criminal story. The series adapts the bestselling book in truly riveting fashion. Read the book and then watch the series.
Feature image from I'll Be Gone in the Dark by HBO Documentary Films