True crime has never felt quite so gripping.
The popularity of long, complex documentaries like "Making a Murderer" and "The Jinx," and the radio podcast "Serial" are putting an immersive and realistic twist on TV crime staples and spurring heated debate about the shortcomings of the U.S. judicial system.
And there is much more to come.
A much-anticipated, 10-episode TV series on the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which still fascinates and polarizes Americans 20 years on, will start on the FX channel in February. Discovery Channel last week began its six-episode "Killing Fields" series that takes viewers inside an active cold case murder investigation in Louisiana as it unfolds in real time.
"What we're seeing in this batch of shows is the idea that true crime can have some kind of social utility," said David Schmid, an English professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and editor of the 2015 book "Violence in American Popular Culture."
"I think these shows are tapping into our culture's widespread sense that our justice system, if not broken, is definitely in trouble," Schmid added.