It’s been a big year for true crime documentaries on Netflix. From Tinder Swindler to Bad Vegan, the streamer has made a name for itself as the platform of choice for true crime addicts — and Netflix’s latest docuseries about a real-world crime is making another sizeable splash.
Netflix’s new three-part true crime docuseries is called Don’t Pick Up the Phone, and it’s already rocketed into the Netflix most-watched list. The doc currently ranks at No. 4 behind only Wednesday, the controversial Prince Harry and Meghan Markle doc and the latest episodes of the reality show Too Hot Too Handle. That’s not bad going for a doc that has only been on the streaming service for around 48 hours.
Don’t Pick Up the Phone tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across America. The sinister prankster would pose as a police officer and pretend to be calling in order to investigate a theft. The caller would instruct managers to strip-search young female employees claiming they were suspects. And even more disturbing, what started as a humiliating prank soon escalated into sexual abuse for several of the victims.
The series focuses on a rookie detective in Mount Washington, Kentucky who makes it his mission to catch the perpetrator. The doc doesn’t just focus on the hunt for the hoaxer, it also looks at the victim’s difficult search for justice and how those people duped into committing strip-search crimes dealt with the guilt. It’s a macabre but undoutbedly compelling angle for a true crime docuseries.
If that basic premise sounds a little bit familiar to you, then may have seen the 2012 movie Compliance. This thriller film is based upon the same real-world events that Don’t Pick Up the Phone recounts and received critical acclaim upon its release (it’s currently scored at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes). It makes a great companion piece to the documentary. Unfortunately, Compliance is not currently streaming on Netflix, but you can find it on Amazon Prime Video or watch for free (with ads) on Plex.
It's only been on Netflix for a matter of days, but Don’t Pick Up the Phone is already shocking viewers. A quick search of social media will bring up plenty of strong responses to the events covered by the documentary. Some viewers are stunned how easily the hoax caller was able to convince people to commit heinous actions, while some Netflix subscribers are debating who is ultimately responsible for what happened.
It seems that Don’t Pick Up the Phone is set to be another true crime winner for Netflix. And even those suffering from true crime burnout may find their curiosity piqued by such a shocking tale. Netflix’s continued dominance of the true crime genre is just one of the reasons we rank it as one of the best streaming services currently available.