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4 of the best gritty crime dramas on Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, and Prime Video

Updated Nov 3rd, 2022 12:01AM EDT
Narcos: Mexico on Netflix
Image: Juan Rosas/Netflix

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The great thing about having so many streaming services these days to choose from, from Netflix to Apple TV Plus and more, is that it pretty much guarantees there will always be something for everyone to enjoy. Granted, some of the streamers have much deeper libraries of content than others. But if you’re especially into specific popular genres — like, say, crime shows — you’ll most likely find an abundance of riches across multiple platforms.

Back at the end of September, Netflix released the long-awaited second season of Snabba Cash, a fantastic and seriously underrated Swedish-language crime drama. It’s such a next-level international crime title from Netflix, that it actually got me reminiscing about some of my favorite and what I also think are the best crime shows across multiple streaming services, titles that we’ll take a closer look at below.

Narcos (Netflix)

Ever since Narcos: Mexico, the spinoff of Netflix’s Narcos crime show franchise that was set in Colombia, dropped its final episodes late last year, I’ve yet to see a similar series emerge from the streamer with the same amount of world-building, complex storylines and richly drawn characters to satisfy a fan of big crime sagas.

I stand by my assertion in a November 2021 piece, that the Narcos franchise will, in fact, go down as one of the greatest Netflix originals of all time. And it’s not just because of the propulsive storytelling, the larger-than-life villains, the power struggles, and the explosive violence juxtaposed with the at-times breathtaking beauty of Mexico and Colombia. The show also gets the little things right. Like the mannerisms and personality of Andrea Nunez — a fictional journalist in the final season of Narcos: Mexico who, as an idealist in a dying and deadly profession, brings heart and humanity to the story.

Three more crime shows to stream

Gomorrah (HBO Max)

From the haunting soundtrack to the authentic Neapolitan dialect that’s spoken, everything about the five-season Gomorrah on HBO Max is note-perfect. In a just world, this will be the mafia saga by which all other comers are judged.

gomorrah hbo max
Arturo Muselli, shown as Enzo “Blue Blood” in “Gomorrah” on HBO Max. Image source: Max

There are no cartoonish goons in neck chains and jumpsuits here, sitting around eating lasagna and telling people to fuhgeddaboudit. Rather, this is a super-violent, Shakesperean drama about Italian cities and towns governed by “il Sistema” (The System).

Rival clans of the Camorra, the Italian criminal organization upon which the name of this show is based, jockey for power and fight a turf war that never ends. One where the battlefield is demarcated by city streets, ugly apartment blocks, and the sound of automatic gunfire that’s as commonplace as children playing in the street.

Think of this series as the love child of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.

Black Bird

When no less than Stephen King raves that an Apple TV Plus show is “brilliant and riveting” (and when that same show has a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes) it’s almost certainly worth putting on your watch list and checking out.

In this series from creator Dennis Lehane, Taron Egerton plays “Jimmy Keene,” a high school football hero and the son of a decorated policeman. When he gets put away for a decade in a minimum-security prison, he’s given a choice: Transfer to a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane and befriend a suspected serial killer behind bars — or stay put, right where he is, with no possibility of parole.

From Apple: “Keene quickly realizes his only way out is to elicit a confession and find out where the bodies of several young girls are buried before Hall’s appeal goes through. But is this suspected killer telling the truth? Or is it just another tale from a serial liar? This dramatic and captivating story subverts the crime genre by enlisting the help of the very people put behind bars to solve its mysteries.”

ZeroZeroZero (Prime Video)

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano wrote the book that Gomorrah was based on. He also did the same for ZeroZeroZero, a similarly gritty and violent one-season crime show available to stream on Prime Video.

From Amazon’s official description: “ZeroZeroZero is an … action crime drama spanning three continents and six different countries inspired by the book of the same title from best-selling author Roberto Saviano. The series follows the journey of a cocaine shipment, from the moment a powerful cartel of Italian criminals decides to buy it until the cargo is delivered and paid for. The international cocaine trade has its roots in the fragile network linking powerful organizations and unscrupulous individuals.”

More Netflix coverage: Netflix Top 10: The most-watched shows in the world right now

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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