Is Netflix's 'The Tinder Swindler' Really Good? Should You Watch It?

The Tinder Swindler Netflix

A tightly constructed, compellingly told, and downright fascinating tale to expound on, “The Tinder Swindler” deserves to be one of the most talked-about true crime documentaries on Netflix. It touches on the world of “con men” and the wonderous playground the 2000s have provided them with thanks to dating apps.

“The Tinder Swindler” wastes no time digging into the story by having it told via a first-hand account by one of his victims. It opens with the vivacious Cecilie, who acknowledges looking for love, and relying on Tinder in hopes of finding her “Beauty and the Beast” fairytale. Unfortunately for Cecilie, she is about to meet a beast disguised as a man wrapped in Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and the usual high fashion suspects.

What comes next is a story that is surreal, shocking, and utterly believable. Love is blind, and some people know it. “The Tinder Swindler,” tells the sordid tale of thinking you are dating Christian Grey (minus the proclivities) and actually dating a Chuck Bass wannabe. That does little to do the story justice, and I do not want to give anything away. You truly have to watch it.

If “Tiger King” lured you in, and “The Imposter” had you spellbound, “The Tinder Swindler” will do its part to reel you into its web. Expertly directed by Felicity Morris, the feature-length Netflix doc compresses a narrative others would have milked for multiple episodes. Thankfully, we get everything in one breathtaking shot. Morris navigates viewers through the victim’s harrowing stories with the help of recreations and a surprising amount of first-hand filming.

This is the age of social media, and everyone wants to document the best moments in their lives. Little do they know these will later turn out to be some of the worst. Instagram and the events filmed by cell phone cameras capture a con man in his element, and more pointedly: his natural habitat. It is a rare, voyeuristic peek into the ego of a narcissist, and it serves viewers well.

In a strange twist of timing, “The Tinder Swindler” is not the first of its kind to recently arrive on Netflix. The miniseries “The Puppet Master” takes viewers into the dark caverns of a con man whose one victim shared how she suffered under his sinister thumb for a decade. So, it is dizzying to see yet another individual pull a similar scheme with a different endgame in mind.  

Both “The Puppet Master” and “The Tinder Swindler” demonstrate how their titular subjects use their victims to live off of, while the Swindler uses his to procure a life of excessive luxury. In another striking similarity, neither of the documentaries feature one of Disney’s (usually) happy endings. This is real-life, and its endings often suck. Along the lines of “The Hills” theme song, one would hope: The story is still getting written.

Meanwhile on Netflix, I am honestly shocked to not see the con doc in the streamer’s top three most-watched list, where “Brazen” and others have found themselves of late. “The Tinder Swindler” is a must-watch for true crime aficionados and a cautionary tale for those looking for love on dating apps. Be warned. The search to find a good person to spend your life with is daunting and full of fakes.

In my limited experience with dating, “Dirty John” and “The Tinder Swindler” are not rarities or outliers in the world. They sadly represent a tremendous amount of the dating populace. It is better to go into the world of romance with your eyes open. There are more toads than there are royals in disguise. No offense to toads. They are way more valuable.