True crime documentaries are some of the most captivating programs on television. If you’re a fan of the genre, you are surely familiar with “The First 48.”

The show airs on A&E and is currently streaming on several platforms, including DirecTV, Sling TV, Hulu, Discovery+ Amazon Channel, Discovery Plus, and Peacock Premium. Viewers can also watch “The First 48” for free with ads on Peacock, A&E, Pluto TV, and the Roku Channel, or catch full episodes on-demand on Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Store, Google Play Movies, and Apple iTunes.

Do you want to learn more about “The First 48”? Keep reading as we go over the show’s premise and discuss some key elements in detail.

What Is “The First 48” About?

“The First 48” is a TV series that gives viewers unprecedented access to the life of homicide investigators. As the name implies, the show focuses on the first 48 hours of an investigation, with each episode covering homicide teams in different cities.

Viewers get a closer look at the investigative process and the various steps involved, including access to crime scenes, interrogations, and forensic evidence analysis — among many other processes. 

Each episode alternates between different crime scenes and follows homicide detectives as they attempt to piece the case together in the critical first two days of investigations. While most cases are solved within the first 48 hours, the show also features cases that remain unsolved for months or even years.

Does “The First 48” Use Actors?

As a reality TV show that follows detectives through the first two days of homicide investigations, “The First 48” does not use actors. The people featured on the show are real detectives, and the investigations’ subjects are real-life homicides, victims, and criminals.

A former “The First 48” producer has vouched for the show‘s authenticity in a Reddit AMA from 2012. When asked about the show’s realism, the producer, who opted to remain anonymous, said:

“Working on F48 is probably one of the most memorable jobs I’ll have in a long time. It’s the REALEST show I’ve ever done, and probably ever will. I don’t think there’s any other show on TV that can call itself true Verte (Latin for “truth” and a term in production we use for doc-style shooting).”

“The First 48” Cases

It is also worth noting that the show’s involvement in real-life cases has led to more than one controversial falling out with local authorities and some legal trouble for the show’s crew. Here are some examples:

  • In 2014, the city of Miami announced that it would be ending its contract with A&E, thus ending any future productions of “The First 48” in the city. The decision was made after A&E failed to remove an episode featuring Taiwan Smart, a young man falsely accused of second-degree murder who has since sued the city for false imprisonment. The episode is believed to contain a misrepresentation of a key witness’ statement.
  • On May 16, 2010, “The First 48” cameras recorded the shooting and killing of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones during a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) raid in Detroit. The shooting took place while SWAT units were searching for a homicide suspect. Allison Howard, the A&E camera operator working that night, was found guilty of committing perjury and sentenced to two years of probation after providing false statements under oath early in the investigation.
  • In 2016, the city of New Orleans decided to terminate its contract with A&E and end any future productions of “The First 48” and “Nightwatch” in the city. The decision was taken after “The First 48” producers were found to have interfered with a case by hiding footage. The case in question involved Shawn Peterson, a New Orleans man charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the triple murder of his ex-girlfriend, her son, and her daughter. As of 2022, “Nightwatch” has resumed filming in New Orleans after a three-year hiatus.

Who Is the Narrator of “The First 48”?

The show is narrated by Dion Graham, an award-winning actor, and narrator with a career spanning three decades. He has appeared on Broadway and in film, video games, and television. Outside of his voiceover work, he is probably best known for roles on “The Wire” and “Law & Order.” Here are some credits from his extensive body of work:

  • 2021: “The Blacklist” (TV series) as Gib Horn
  • 2019: “FBI” (TV series) as ASAC Tom Andrews
  • 2019: “The Atlanta Child Murders” (TV mini-series documentary) as narrator
  • 2018: “Elementary” (TV series) as Hakeem
  • 2016: “The Walking Dead: Michonne” (video game) as Dominic (voice)
  • 2014-2015: “Madam Secretary” as Diplomatic Security Head Agent Fred Cole
  • 2002-2010: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (TV series) as FBI Agent Dowley/Samuel Hill
  • 1998-2007: “Law & Order” (TV series) as Principal Ron Hill/Ron Hamilton/Smith
  • 2006-2008: “The Wire” (TV series) as State’s Attorney Rupert Bond

How Many Episodes and Seasons of “The First 48” Are There?

As of May 19, 2022, there are 22 seasons and 468 episodes. While the first two seasons consisted of 13 episodes each, there hasn’t been a set number of episodes per season since then. For instance, season three had just 12 episodes, whereas season 21 ran for 54 episodes.

Spin-offs of “The First 48”

“The First 48” has had many spin-offs over the years. Here is a brief overview of each one:

“After the First 48”

After the First 48

This show focuses on the aftermath of the first 48 hours. It details what happens after the initial investigation and takes viewers through the period between arrest and conviction. The show features interviews with various individuals involved in the case, including survivors, relatives of the victims, lawyers, prosecutors, cops, detectives, and others.

“The First 48 Missing Persons”

The First 48 Missing Persons

This show follows the same premise as “The First 48” (i.e., giving viewers an inside look at the life of detectives as they attempt to solve a case within the first 48 hours). The show is filmed in Chicago and follows the activities and procedures of the city’s Missing Persons Unit. Each episode ends with either the case resolution or an extended dead end.

“The Killer Speaks”

The Killer Speaks

Unlike all the shows we‘ve discussed so far, The “Killer Speaks” shifts the focus from the detectives to the culprits. The show presents murders from the killers‘ perspective and features interviews with convicted felons who describe their crimes in gruesome detail. The series seeks to dissect the psychology of murderers and understand their motivations. The subjects presented on the show include mass shooters, serial killers, domestic violence killers, and spree murderers. It is also worth noting that the killers are cast from all over the country and are not limited to subjects from the original show.

“Marcia Clark Investigates The First 48”

Marcia Clark Investigates The First 48

As of the writing of this article, this is the latest spin-off of “The First 48.” The show is hosted by O. J. Simpson trial prosecutor Marcia Clark and has the same story format as “The First 48.” The main difference is that, instead of presenting low-profile homicide cases, the show focuses on highly publicized cases. Examples of cases featured on the show include Casey Anthony, Robert Blake, Drew Peterson, and the Billionaire Boys Club.

When Do New Episodes of “The First 48” Come Out?

The show usually airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on A&E. As of June 2022, there has been no announcement regarding the release date of a new season. This doesn’t mean the network has canceled the show. It may be on break or some other priorities may have caused a delay in the scheduling and announcement of the new season. 

In any case, check back as we continue to keep you updated with the latest news and developments on all things pertaining to”The First 48.”

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Rebecca Swanson

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV