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A murder. A sad detective. A small town with secrets. A lingering sense of despair permeating absolutely everything. Put them all together and you’ve got the makings of a great binge watch. (Bonus points if you get to flip on the subtitles and pretend you’re doing something educational.) Thanks to the rise of streaming and the Nordic noir boom, the last decade has blessed us with a bounty of superbly addictive crime dramas.

Maybe you know this and have blazed your way through most of them already. Or maybe you don’t and are looking for something to occupy you when Mare of Easttown ends. Either way, GQ went straight to the sources: below, the creators of our favorite TV crime dramas recommend their favorites.

Nic Pizzolatto, creator of True Detective, recommends Crime Story:

Dennis Farina as Lieutenant Mike Torello in Crime Story.

Dennis Farina as Lieutenant Mike Torello in Crime Story.

Everett Collection

“I’ll have to reach back to point the curious and historically-minded viewer to the 1986-1988 series Crime Story. Created by Gustave Reininger and Chuck Adamson, the show bears all the stylistic hallmarks and motifs of series producer-director Michael Mann. From the energizing, stylistic shots of the credit sequence set to Del Shannon’s haunting “Runaway,” through its bombastic action, blurred morality, and gaudy neon, the series feels completely of a piece with Mann’s films and sensibility.

Set in 1963 Chicago (and later Las Vegas and Mexico), Crime Story details the violent exploits of the city’s Major Crime Unit, led by Lieutenant Mike Torello (Denis Farina, never better). This was far from a case-of-the-week procedural with a novel setting, though. The series traced the rise of a ruthless gangster named Ray Luca and his blood feud with Lt. Torello, a saga that escalated to ever more operatic and violent set-pieces. At eleven years old, I’d never seen anything like it on television. Crime Story’s two seasons were ahead of their time, with the serialization of story, its cinematic style, the brutality of its world and the ambiguity of its heroes.

Anyway—Crime Story is a punch in the mouth. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, you should seek it out.”

(Find Crime Story on Prime Video, Peacock, Tubi, Pluto TV, and Vudu.)

Derek Simonds, creator of The Sinner, recommends Top of the Lake and Happy Valley:
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Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley.

Everett Collection / Courtesy of Netflix

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Nicole Kidman as Julia Edwards in Top of the Lake.

Everett Collection / Courtesy pf See-Saw Films and Sundance Channel

“There are two shows that really stuck with me and became touchstones as I developed The Sinner.

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