N Crime AA: The True-Crime Content Championship

Eve and I, two weeks ago: “We’d love to get this true-crime take on March Madness set up, but who has the time?” Eve and I now: “[holding each other’s beers]”

…But seriously, folks: our esteemed colleague Kevin Smokler and I have been talking off and on for years now about a Mount Rushmore of true crime, and who would get carved onto it, and for what. Running a bracket Fug Madness-style to see what the best regarded and most lasting true-crime properties are is one way to figure that out, so that’s what we’re going to do. I still haven’t quite worked out if we should stop at the Final Four or go all the way to a championship “game”; you’ll see why in a moment, so read on for how all this is going to work!

The N Crime AA Tournament Bracket: An Overview

The B.E. bracket would work the same way an NCAA bracket works: seeded “teams” in four “regions” compete against each other, survive/advance, and in the end, a champion is crowned. (“I still don’t know what that means.” That’s okay! Stephanie Lucianovic and I used to do these with food and cocktails, back in the day; here’s the completed NC Double Shot bracket, which should give you a more concrete idea. Still got questions? Hit us in the comments.)

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In B.E.’s particular case, we use genres for the “regions” — so, instead of North, East, etc., it’s Films, Podcasts, TV, and Text. “Ohhh, I see: this is why you’d leave it at a Final Four, because to have In Cold Blood against Dirty John is comparing apples and…handcuffs.” Pretty much!

But let’s not worry about that quite yet. First, we have to figure out who’s “playing.”

The Nominations

Before the bracket proper starts, we need to know who’s in it. We have our own ideas, but we’d love to hear from you — just list your nominations in the comments! Easy breezy lemon squeezy. No cap on nominations (within reason; try to read others’ lists first; you get it) and all nominations will go into the “play-in” round to cut the list down to 16 for each region.

Nomination Eligibility

Films = feature-length properties. They can have had a theatrical release, but this is not required. Examples: The Thin Blue Line, Mommy Dead and Dearest, Tabloid, various Lifetime adaptations.

Podcasts = either investigative or review podcasts. Feel free to nominate a particular season of a podcast. Examples: Real Crime Profile, In The Dark, AJC Breakdown S2; Serial (S1 or overall).

TV = broadcast and streaming both eligible; the key criterion is multiple installments, so while OJ: Made In America was treated as a single long film by the Oscars, it’s considered TV for our purposes. (Not sure how we deal with 30 For 30 generally, but let’s see if anyone else nominates it.) Vintage miniserieseseses also go here. Examples: The Deliberate Stranger, The Jinx, Tiger King, The Act.

Text = books and longform articles. We could probably do a bracket just on books, and break out the regions according to subgenre (murder, fraud, etc.)…and depending on how long Mr. Cuomo has us inside all day, I may end up doing that in, like, May? But for now, it’s stuff you read. Online counts; books you listened to count. Examples: In Cold Blood, Furious Hours, The Executioner’s Song, “The Imposter,” Skip Hollandsworth and Pamela Colloff pieces in Texas Monthly, the Buzzfeed piece on the Blanchards.

Nominations are open all week. Once we have four lists, then we’ll winnow them…and in the process, we’ll end up ranking the top 16 as well. If you have any leads on polling software I can embed here, please reach out!

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Questions? Concerns? Genre-busters we didn’t consider? Email editorial at the-blotter dot com, or leave a comment below. For now, get nominating! And, if you wouldn’t mind, boost this on social and/or forward it to a friend or family member who’s interested in true crime — the more the…well, not “merrier,” but you know what we mean. And watch this space for the tourney schedule. — SDB


This week on Best Evidence: The slings and arrows of outrageous Weinstein; a Blotter-Presents-guest syllabus; my Q&A with Franchise author Dr. Marcia Chatelain; and some meta discussion threads. It’s free all week, and it’s at least six feet away from you.


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