Too hot to go anywhere? Want to binge while the air conditioning blasts, but annoyed that you still have to wait a few weeks for the next season of The Sinner? Cool off with these mysteries and thrillers instead. Based on some of next season’s central themes -- communes, child murder, small town crimes, and whydunits -- we have a few not-so-cold cases to keep you company. (And, of course, the first season is available now on Netflix for a second viewing!)
1. The Leftovers (HBO)
What It Is: In what’s called a “Sudden Departure,” two percent of the world’s population -– some 140 million people -– mysteriously vanish. Was it the Rapture? Or something else? The remaining 98 percent of the population tries to come to terms with this loss, which provokes many a spiritual crisis.
Why The Sinner fans will love The Leftovers: Not only do the two shows share a lead actress (the wonderful Carrie Coon), but there is a creepy group at the center of The Leftovers called the Guilty Remnant, whose members deem themselves to be Living Reminders. (They smoke nonstop, wear white, and refuse to speak –- even to each other). Watching vulnerable people searching for answers end up in the G.R. helps illuminate the difference between cults and religion.
2. Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)
What It Is: A group of misfit teenagers realize that their parents are actually super villains, who have been recruiting victims for ritualistic murders via the Scientology-like Church of Gibborim. The teens have to find their own powers in order to save themselves and others.
Why The Sinner fans will love Marvel’s Runaways: Although it’s set in the Marvel universe, Runaways feels less like a superhero show and more like a family drama. It’s all about the struggle the kids have to reconcile the idea they had of their parents before and after they witness a blood sacrifice -- the cognitive dissonance, the sense of betrayal, the grudging acceptance that they might have to be willing to fight their own parents to the death, in order to protect the innocent. Powerful stuff.
3. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Prime)
What It Is: Three Australian boarding school girls and one of their teachers, out on a school picnic in 1900, mysteriously disappear – stirring up a local scandal. What was once a small, cloistered space gets ripped open to outside observers, as everyone becomes a suspect, including the school’s headmistress (played by Natalie Dormer).
Why The Sinner Fans Will Love Picnic at Hanging Rock: The original tale was told in a 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay, and was then adapted into a 1975 movie by Peter Weir, but this six-part miniseries is much more meditative and menacing. Plus, we know what happened from the first episode in –- but we learn more about why as we glimpse both pre- and post-picnic events.
4. Top of the Lake, Top of the Lake: China Girl (Sundance)
What It Is: Detective Robin Griffin investigates two separate cases, both of which become entangled in her own personal life. In the first series, it’s the case of a missing (and pregnant) 12-year-old girl. In the second series, it’s the case of a murdered (and also pregnant) sex worker and an illegal surrogacy ring.
Why The Sinner Fans Will Love Top of the Lake: Jane Campion’s take is more about gender politics than police work, and she uses the crimes to explore issues of institutionalized misogyny, mental illness, and mind-control. In season one, Holly Hunter plays a guru of sorts who leads a group of troubled women to an actual physical place called Paradise. Are they better off isolating themselves from the world of men, or is it dangerous to put your life in the hands of an enigmatic stranger?
5. The Path (Hulu)
What It Is: A married couple (Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan) are deeply invested in a movement led by the charismatic Cal (Hugh Dancy), who hopes to take Meyerism beyond the compound and into the mainstream.
Why The Sinner Fans Will Love The Path: Showrunner Jessica Goldberg invented Meyerism to exist somewhere between a doomsday cult and a chill hippie commune, with beliefs drawn from fringe cults, mysticism, extremist religions, and more traditional organized religions. Want to understand how a cult operates from within? This is a close-up look.
6. Mindhunter (Netflix)
What It Is: 1970s FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench team up to profile previously convicted killers to gain insight into their abnormal psychology and methods. In order to save lives, they have to understand – and empathize with – other murderers still at large, and begin to speak their language.
Why The Sinner Fans Will Love Mindhunter: Mindhunter -– as its title might suggest –- takes a cerebral approach. (Most crimes are off-screen, and relayed through dialogue and brief crime scene photos). Our two agents travel to various small towns to school local cops, as they try to teach (and learn) what makes people do these horrific things. And what societal conditions helped lead to these things happening in the first place? Good question.
Find out why he did it when The Sinner premieres a new limited series Wednesday, Aug. 1, on USA Network! Watch Jessica Biel discuss the new story below: