Netflix’s ‘Inside Man‘ is a British crime drama TV series created by Steven Moffat that revolves around Jefferson Grieff, a death row inmate in the US, solving the missing person case of Janice, a woman trapped in a vicarage in the UK. The show touches upon sensitive subjects such as murder and pedophilia while portraying how morally ambiguous humans really are.
The narrative comprises various themes, such as a good person becoming the victim of their circumstances, a murderer repenting his actions, and a hungry journalist who learns the difference between sensationalism and actual news. If you are a fan of the different motifs of a crime drama or a murder mystery series, we have a few recommendations for you. You can watch most of these shows, like ‘Inside Man‘ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. Breakout Kings (2011-2012)
‘Breakout Kings’ follows a task force of con artists created by US Marshals who want to catch a few fugitives. In return, the members of the squad get a reduced sentence. The series is created by Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora, known for ‘Prison Break.’ Although the tonalities of this series and ‘Inside Man’ are vastly different, the common ground they share is how prisoners use their intellect to solve problems for others.
In ‘Breakout Kings,’ we see them do it for law enforcement, and in ‘Inside Man,’ we see Jefferson do it for people who match his criteria. In both cases, the convicts possess specific knowledge and skillsets that others around them don’t, which make the narratives engaging and exciting.
6. For Life (2020-2021)
‘For Life‘ is a legal drama series that revolves around Aaron Wallace, a wrongfully convicted man who studies the law to turn his verdict while litigating cases for his other inmates. Loosely based on the life of Issac Wright Jr., the series epitomizes an underdog story. Though the Netflix drama differs from this show regarding the themes, their protagonists have a couple of similarities.
Grieff from ‘Inside Man,’ and Wallace from ‘For Life,’ take up their cases based on their moral worth. On the one hand, the latter chooses cases of wrongfully convicted inmates. Meanwhile, Grieff takes cases that can enable him to do some good. Despite sharing a familiar spirit of goodwill, the characters are poles apart. Wallace is a good man who didn’t commit a crime, whereas Grieff is a murderer who killed his wife.
5. Happy Valley (2014- )
‘Happy Valley‘ is a crime-drama series that chronicles the life of police sergeant Catherine Cawood after her teenage daughter’s death. It follows how she leads a team of police officers to solve crimes in the area, which leads her down a dark path where her professional and personal lives collide. The story is slightly slow-paced compared to ‘Inside Man,’ but the emotional undertones in various scenes are similar.
In a couple of scenes when a character is abducted, the way they react is reminiscent of Janice, who is trapped in a cellar. These scenarios possess several common tropes in other films and shows in the abduction subgenre. However, both shows add their twist to those scenes and bring a certain uniqueness to the story and the character arcs.
4. The Blacklist (2013- )
‘The Blacklist‘ is crime-thriller TV series that centers on Raymond Reddington (James Spader), a criminal mastermind who surrenders himself to the FBI after years of evasion. The protagonist offers to help the agency find terrorists and other anti-social elements on one condition – he gets to work with a profiler named Elizabeth Keen.
Loosely based on a real-life person called James Bulger, the show portrays Raymond as a suave, charming, and conniving criminal. His traits are pretty reminiscent of the Grieff’s from ‘Inside Man‘ as both exude sociopathic vibes and possess incredible skills when it comes to reading between the lines. But underneath this seemingly perfect persona lies their deepest and darkest secrets. Each show taps into the characters’ personalities to keep the audience hooked to the story.
3. Luther (2010-2019)
BBC’s ‘Luther’ is a psychological thriller series about the titular detective John Luther (Idris Elba), who, due to various circumstances, partners with a psychopath and solves different kinds of cases. The five-season TV series is gritty and edgy, depicting Luther as this near-genius crime-solving officer who tends to spiral into dark places and tries to escape from them.
The protagonist’s skills resemble Greiff’s from ‘Inside Man,’ and both characters exude a sinister aura, even if their actions speak otherwise. This morally grey area in which both the men operate is exciting for the audience, who is conflicted between rooting for them and despising their mindset.
2. Black Bird (2022)
‘Black Bird‘ is a bleak tale about a convicted drug dealer named James Keene (Taron Egerton) who decides to get a confession from Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser), a fellow prisoner, in exchange for his freedom. Based on the autobiographical book, ‘In with the Devil: a Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption,’ by James Keene, the crime drama series touches upon sensitive subjects such as rape, assault, serial killers, and more. James Keene and Grieff share the same similarities as the latter and Raymond Reddington from ‘The Blacklist.’
Like Grieff, James has a smug façade that acts as his defense mechanism. While we see the former leave that pretense only for a few brief moments, Keene breaks completely as he faces his demons; in a way, Grieff is his evolved version. Besides, Jefferson Grieff understands who he is and his complexities and issues, whereas James Keene takes his time to come to terms with them. Although both are intelligent and know their way around people, Grieff seems a little ahead of the curve compared to the latter.
1. Broadchurch (2013-2017)
Any list around the crime-drama genre is incomplete without ‘Broadchurch.’ The three-season show chronicles a specific case in each season. In the first iteration, Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and his partner, Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), investigate the case of 11-year-old Danny Latimer, whose body is found on the shore of a beach. In some ways, the series’s visual tone is similar to ‘Inside Man,’ especially the scenes set in the UK.
Besides this, the two shows touch upon how the human psyche functions and that the line between a decent person and someone sinister is, in fact, pretty thin. We also see subjects such as child sexual abuse being sensitively portrayed in both shows. However, looking at the same issue from different perspectives is fascinating. The core premises of the shows are pretty strong and demand the audience’s attention. On top of that, the emotional and philosophical undertones in the two stories make them impactful for the viewer and leave them with questions to ponder.