Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

12 Best Shows Like Black Bird You Should Watch Next

Revered writer Dennis Lehane is best known for his popular mystery novels "Mystic River," "Shutter Island," and "Gone Baby Gone," all of which went on to be adapted into successful films. Although he also wrote for HBO's "The Wire" and did some consulting producing on shows like "Boardwalk Empire," his biggest television project may be the six-part Apple TV+ limited drama series "Black Bird."

In quite the departure from his Golden Globe-winning performance as Elton John in "Rocket Man," Taron Egerton stars as charismatic Chicago drug dealer Jimmy Keene, who's sentenced to 10 years in prison after being arrested for possession of narcotics and illegal firearms. "Black Bird" depicts Jimmy's incarceration as he reluctantly accepts a tricky deal from the FBI that would grant him an early release and full exoneration of his crimes. All he has to do is relocate to a maximum security prison to lure a confession out of suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser).

"Black Bird" is a disturbing but compelling entry in the ever-growing canon of true crime TV series, and an easy one to binge, too. If you find yourself craving another similar series, here are the 12 best shows like "Black Bird" that you should check out next.

When They See Us

If you're seeking a deeper look into the evils of the prison-industrial complex, Netflix's "When They See Us" is a perfect follow-up to "Black Bird." Created, co-written, and directed by Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Ava DuVernay, the heartbreaking four-part limited series details the events leading up to the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger case and its aftermath. "When They See Us" is told through the perspective of the five Black and Latino juveniles who were wrongfully accused of the aggravated assault and rape of a White woman. The teenagers endure police brutality and a corrupt court case that completely upends their lives. 

Like James' story in "Black Bird," "When They See Us" offers a firsthand account of the harsh realities of being a prisoner. But DuVernay's show has larger objectives, taking searing swings at the systemic racism within the criminal justice system in the United States. "Part Four" is particularly effective in its portrayal of Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome in an incredible, Emmy-winning turn) and his 14 years of incarceration, including his harrowing time in solitary confinement.

Under the Banner of Heaven

If the interwoven and time-jump-heavy storytelling structure of "Black Bird" appeals to you, FX's "Under the Banner of Heaven" should be your next watch. Created by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, "Under the Banner of Heaven" also unfurls across multiple storylines spanning several time periods. Starring Andrew Garfield as Detective Jeb Pyre, the true crime limited series centers on the brutal murder of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) follower Brenda Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her unborn child.

Even more ambitious in scale than "Black Bird," "Under the Banner of Heaven" employs three time periods to host its sprawling narrative: Jeb and Detective Bill Taba's (Gil Birmingham) investigation into Brenda's murder, Brenda's journey into LDS and her ensuing demise, and, most surprisingly, 19th-century flashbacks to the life of Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith (Andrew Burnap). This limited series is not for the impatient, with all seven episodes clocking in at over an hour. But those who endure will witness performances from Garfield and Edgar-Jones that rank among the best of their careers.

The Staircase

Although "Black Bird" is predominately set within prison and federal agencies, writer Dennis Lehane successfully manages to integrate Jimmy's familial troubles into the mix — especially his fraught relationship with his father, "Big Jim," played by the late Ray Liotta in one of his final roles. For viewers yearning for an extra helping of domestic family drama in their next true crime show, look no further than HBO Max's miniseries "The Staircase."

Based on the documentary series of the same title, "The Staircase" employs a non-linear narrative approach like "Black Bird." It tells the true, beguiling story of North Carolina novelist Michael Peterson (Colin Firth), who's accused of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette) after she's found dead at the bottom of the family home's staircase.

The cuts between timelines in "Black Bird" from Jimmy to detective Brian Miller can sometimes feel a little jarring, but "The Staircase" trapezes between its various timelines with a chilly grace. Created by independent film auteur Antonio Campos, the HBO Max miniseries wisely makes certain that every child in the Peterson-Ratcliff clan is a vivid character with their own inner life. With such a fully realized ensemble, Campos constructs the perfect canvas to explore the emotional reverberations that Kathleen's untimely death and Michael's legal trials send throughout the family tree.


Jimmy's decision to accept the FBI deal in "Black Bird" is understandably motivated by self-preservation. At times, this can make the show's interest in Larry's psyche feel a little thin. No other series in recent memory delves deeper into the minds of serial killers than Netflix's late 1970s and early 1980s period drama "Mindhunter" – one of the best original series the streamer has ever produced. Created by Joe Penhall and famously executive produced and frequently directed by David Fincher, the Netflix series follows special FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they collaborate with psychology professor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) to create and run the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit.

While "Black Bird" has a tendency to revel in the salacious, gory details of Larry's murders, "Mindhunter" takes a more analytical approach in its exploration of serial killers. Some of the show's most terrifying scenes are the hushed conversations between Holden and serial killer Edmund Kemper (Emmy-nominated Cameron Britton) when they're simply seated across from one another at a table. Approach with caution, though, as "Mind Hunter" is the kind of show that will likely haunt you for a while.

The Girl from Plainville

"Black Bird" makes it clear from the jump that you're in for a violent show. If you found yourself watching through the cracks of your fingers with your hands covering your face, the Hulu limited series "The Girl from Plainville" is a great next option to binge for those who are squeamish when it comes to on-screen violence.

"The Girl from Plainville" dramatizes the unsettling true relationship between Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning) and Conrad Roy (Colton Ryan). The show shows how Michelle eventually was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after Conrad died by suicide. But "The Girl from Plainville" isn't for those seeking ripped-from-the-headlines sensationalism. It's paced slowly, taking its time with its depiction of Michelle and Conrad's chance meeting, their courtship, and their ensuing relationship that took place mostly over text. Like "Black Bird," "The Girl from Plainville" bounces back and forth between several timelines along its measured look into what drew Michelle and Conrad together and how everything went so horribly awry. The show traffics in an ambiguity rarely explored in the genre, offering no easy answers about the tragedy that befell the two teenagers.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Mare of Easttown

One of the most underrated elements of "Black Bird" is its strong sense of place. From Jimmy and his family's Chicago accents to the idyllic imagery of rural Illinois and its never-ending cornfields, the show feels completely grounded in a real place beyond the prison walls. Another show that achieves this with even greater impact is HBO's critically-acclaimed "Mare of Easttown," which follows police detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) as she investigates the murder of a local young mother.

This limited series is set in the fictional Philadelphia suburb of Easttown, based on very real towns in Pennsylvania's Delaware County, with "Delco" accents and sayings galore and subtle nods to Wawa and other treasured local institutions. The Emmy-winning limited series isn't based on a true story like "Black Bird," but its regional specificity is of the utmost importance to its success. This authenticity transforms what could have easily been another run-of-the-mill detective whodunit into a potently realized world that feels textured and lived in.

Although it's cliche to refer to a show's setting as a character itself, this is one series that earns that descriptor. By the time the killer is finally discovered at the end of "Mare of Easttown," you feel like you truly know the titular town and how it made, broke, and ultimately healed its protagonist.


Every television show set in prison is partially indebted to the provocative HBO series "Oz," and "Black Bird" is no exception. "Oz" was the premium cable network's first one-hour scripted drama program and went on to run for six seasons after its debut in 1997, paving the way for prison dramas like Fox's "Prison Break" and Netflix's "Orange is the New Black." Created by Tom Fontana, the show is set in a fictional level-four maximum-security men's prison called Oswald State Correctional Facility, nicknamed "Oz."

"Oz" offers a more comprehensive look at life within prison through its enormous cast of characters, who occupy both sides of the bars. The show's ensemble was impressively diverse for its time and was a huge career springboard for stars Christopher Meloni, J.K. Simmons, and Harold Perrineau in particular. "Oz" remains an anomaly among its peers because of its surprisingly poetic flair, featuring experimental sequences of fourth-wall-breaking monologues and theatrical fantasy sketches. Fair warning, though: This is not a show for the faint of heart, as "Oz" doesn't shy away from getting graphic in its portrayal of sexuality and violence.


It's no secret that most true crime dramas like "Black Bird" are predominately populated by male characters. Netflix's eight-part limited series "Unbelievable" is a powerful alternative, showcasing strong, dynamic female characters. Based on the 2015 ProPublica article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape" by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and the "This American Life" podcast episode "Anatomy of Doubt," "Unbelievable" is a searing indictment of the way victims of sexual assault are often disrespected and mistreated within the criminal justice system.

After teenager Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever) reports her rape to the police and is met with doubt, she's steered by them to rescind her allegations. When her case is closed and her identity is leaked to the press, a media firestorm is ignited, attracting the attention of detectives Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merrit Wever). Grace and Karen investigate a series of rapes committed over three years in Washington and Colorado that they believe could be connected to the same perpetrator.

The Emmy-nominated show is obviously a difficult watch given the subject matter — particularly the humiliating blowback Marie faces when the authorities don't believe her story. But for the show's frank, humane depiction of sexual assault survivors alone, "Unbelievable" is recommended viewing.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Sharp Objects

Based on the novel of the same title by Gillian Flynn, HBO's Emmy-nominated "Sharp Objects" is character-driven like "Black Bird," but it offers a stronger dose of mystery. The limited series trails reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) as she returns to her rural hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to cover the developing story of a local teenage girl who's gone missing just a year after another girl was murdered.

Camille struggles with alcoholism and self-harm, and her return home rekindles her volatile relationship with her socialite mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson), whose controlling nature is triggering to Camille and undermines her reporting. Like "Black Bird," "Sharp Objects" is heavily reliant upon flashbacks that grant viewers insight into Camille's tumultuous adolescence and her recent time in a psychiatric facility. All eight episodes are directed by the late Jean-Marc Vallée, who subtly distinguishes the varied timelines while maintaining the show's overarching balmy, southern gothic aesthetic.

While the reveal of the serial killer's identity in "Black Bird" isn't exactly shocking, "Sharp Objects" will keep you guessing who's responsible for the girls' murders until the jaw-dropping finale.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story

As it's primarily focused on Jimmy's point of view, "Black Bird" is a little narrow in scope. For those looking for a larger-scale crime drama, check out FX's critical darling "The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story."

The 10-part limited series — executive produced by prolific showrunner Ryan Murphy — offers viewers a sprawling breadth of perspectives surrounding the infamous O. J. Simpson murder trial. That includes O. J. himself (Cuba Good Jr), his lawyers Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) and Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), and prosecutors Maria Cross (frequent Murphy collaborator Sarah Paulson) and Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown). Paulson swept awards season for her performance, winning the trifecta of limited series acting trophies — Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. Vance and Brown also took home Emmy wins for their exceptional performances.

"The People v. O. J. Simpson" often deviates from the central trial, taking fascinating detours in its examination of race and class in a vividly rendered 1990s Los Angeles. It's a transportive and wild ride that sheds new light on a familiar case and remains consistently suspenseful despite the fact that we all know the ending.

True Detective

Fans of "Black Bird" in search of a darker crime drama should add HBO's "True Detective" to the top of their queue — specifically Season 1. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, the critically adored show was one of the earliest hits in the mid-2010s' wave of prestige limited series.

Utilizing the same nonlinear structure as "Black Bird," "True Detective" Season 1 follows Louisiana detectives Rustin "Rust" Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin "Marty" Hart (Woody Harrelson) as they investigate a series of related murders over the course of 17 years. While "Black Bird" sneaks in traces of warmth and comedic relief whenever possible, not a trace of humor is to be found in the Emmy-winning "True Detective" Season 1, which bleakly interrogates religion, masculinity, and humanity at large.

"True Detective" is cerebral and moody, unfolding like a heady novel as it weaves its three timelines together. It manages to transcend the trappings of the crime drama genre as it juggles an unpredictable central story with complicated characters and horrifying images that are truly the stuff of nightmares. If you like what you see, the rest of the show is absolutely worth checking out as well. Though Season 2 earned somewhat mixed reviews, Mahershala Ali's Season 3 reclaims the greatness of Season 1.


If you found yourself gravitating more toward the emotional character study elements of "Black Bird," SundanceTV's underrated series "Rectify" is right up your alley. The southern gothic drama was a perennial favorite among critics throughout its four-season run. Created by Ray McKinnon, the drama series chronicles the tragic story of Daniel Holden (Alden Young), who returns home to rural Georgia after spending nearly two decades on death row following a wrongful conviction in the rape and murder of his girlfriend.

Unlike most of its crime drama peers, "Rectify" is to be savored, not binged. It's in no rush to barrel through its plot and is more interested in truthful, poignant human drama than cliffhanger endings. The show gives its characters and story the ideal amount of time to reveal themselves, rewarding viewers' patience and delivering a thoughtful meditation on the effects of incarceration.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).