True Crime A To Z: F

Welcome to Best Evidence’s crime-alphabet project! Not sure what the hell we’re doing here? Check it out.

What true-crime properties does the panel give an F about today? Read on…and contribute your own.

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Margaret Howie: Farrah Fawcett. At the start of the 1980s, Fawcett’s career was stuck: she’d been the It Girl of the previous decade, and old It Girls don’t have the greatest shelflife. So she took advantage of the huge audiences for ripped-from-the-headlines true-crime TV movies (the stuff we watched before there was essentially infinite Law & Orders). From The Burning Bed to Small Sacrifices, Fawcett shifted from ingenue to Emmy nominee. Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, and Zac Efron are just some who’ve used the associated grit of true-crime properties to shift their public personas, and they all owe a little to the Fawcett playbook. (Honorable mention: documentary Forbidden Lie$ (2007); From Hell (Alan Moore), Fruitvale Station.)

Kevin Smokler: Fruitvale Station. The 2013 debut by future Black Panther director Ryan Coogler concentrates on the last day of Oakland resident Oscar Grant's life. In Coogler's quiet, assured hands matched by the lead performance of Michael B. Jordan, Grant is neither reckless nor angelic but pretty ordinary, a young man who got into a childish scuffle on a train platform in the early morning hours of New Year's Day, and died for it when a transit cop pulled a gun on a man lying face down on the floor. 

SDB: David Fincher. Zodiac alone would put him in the Hall; Mindhunter cements his spot. (Honorable mention: Ronan Farrow.)

Susan Howard: Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss. An epic tale of the hubris and sociopathy of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the book continues to make an impact 37 years after its publication because of McGinniss’s obsession with the story and the questionable journalistic choices he made in its pursuit. (Honorable mentions: Forensic Files; Fisher, Amy; Furious Hours by Casey Cep.)