If you’re looking for another documentary (or docuseries) to dominate your life, and there are plenty of options on Netflix.
Of course, there’s your standard true crime fare; people will never stop making Ted Bundy documentaries, and that’s just a fact of life. But if you’re the kind of person who needs to keep things light, then check out a food or travel series, like David Chang’s Ugly Delicious, which sees the Momofuku chef experiment with school lunches and eat a lot of meat on a stick. If pop culture is more your speed, both Taylor Swift and Beyoncé have documentaries on the streamer. (What are you doing if you haven’t seen Homecoming at least twice?) And then there’s Cheer. Watch these super-athletes defy the odds and develop your own love-hate relationship with Coach Monica.
Click through for 24 documentaries you can (and should) watch on Netflix right now.
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Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives
“Vegan Queen” Sarma Melngailis was famous for her recipes and vegan restaurant that attracted celebrities from all over. But then she met a man. This docuseries is about how Melngailis fell for the manipulations of Shane Fox, a guy who promised immortality for her and her dog. Soon her life was falling apart, and while there’s plenty of testimony from observers of her wild ride, the woman are the center of it all gets interviewed as well.
This documentary shares a message directly from the earliest spokespeople of conversion therapy: it doesn’t work. Conversion therapy is an abusive tactic to suppress and abuse LGBTQ+ people, and it hasn’t waned in popularity since its advent in the 1970s. This film covers the beginnings of the movement with interviews from queer people who now admit they never changed, and why it’s so important to come forward decades later.
jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy
Even people who aren’t fans of Kanye West’s music can get something out of this documentary. Filmmaker Coodie has been following West since the advent of his career, so the doc contains the sort of intimate footage most music biographers can only dream about. The three-part series contains so many details about one man’s path to world-wide fame and fortune, and all the ups-and-downs such a journey entails.
The infamous Simon Leviev was a pro at making women trust him after matching on the dating app Tinder. He claimed to be the heir to a diamond mogul and was seemingly able to back up these claims with outrageous displays of wealth. Then, all of the sudden, he’d need a little loan. While you might scream in frustration watching woman after woman get taken in by Leviev, the doc does explain how anyone could get taken in by a conscienceless scammer under the right circumstances.
Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes
John Wayne Gacy is a very well-known serial killer, partly because he was so prolific (he killed over men in about a four year timespan) and because he dressed up as a clown. But if you want to delve deeper than these two very striking facts, this doc goes very deep into Gacy’s history and includes new audio of the murderer talking with his defense team about his reasons for killing, and how he got away with it for so long.
White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch
The models for Abercrombie & Fitch might be nice to look at, but this documentary delves into the unsexy side of the century-old company. If you grew up in the nineties, looking at the history of the store’s rise and fall will bring back a lot of memories. And if you didn’t, this will give you a deeper understanding of fashion, trends, and how ugly things can get in the retail market.
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed
Most people associate Bob Ross with “happy little trees,” but the behind-the-scenes story paints a very different picture. This doc won’t ruin your image of Mr. Ross, thank goodness, but it will shine a light on the destructive effect money can have on people after the person they loved is gone.
Are you a royal family follower solely for the conspiracy theories associated with the Windsors? Have you watched every documentary ever about Scientology? This 2015 docuseries has you covered.
Samin Nosrat teaches foodies about the four essential elements of cooking good food. You’ll become an expert on the title subjects—and want to cook and eat everything.
If you’re not a fan of cheerleading, Cheer might change your mind. This gripping series about Navarro College’s cheer program in Corsicana, Texas follows the story of tenacious athletes defending a winning legacy.
David Chang’s two-season series is about the best-tasting food in the world, even when it’s not always the prettiest. Watch an episode about pizza while you eat pizza for dinner for the third time in three weeks. Yes, you’re allowed to celebrate the food you’ve been eating too much of in quarantine, and all the food you want to eat once this whole thing is over.
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
If you want to relive a truly historic moment at Coachella, watch this Beyoncé documentary about the making of her 2018 performance.
Just like Cheer, this series about elite football players with difficult pasts who turn to junior college teams for one last chance will have you hooked.
Take a peek into the best-looking kitchens around the world and explore the masterpieces made by innovative chefs. Yes, you will get hungry.
In this 2020 film, Taylor Swift tells her story of fame, how she harnesses her own power, and why she’s finally speaking out for what she believes in.
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable
Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm in 2003 after a shark attack. Since then, she’s gone on to achieve incredible accomplishments in her career and personal life. This is her story.
This British docuseries recounts how Donald Trump made his way to the presidency.
On January 3, 1970, the body of Sister Cathy Cesnik was found in a remote area outside Baltimore two months after she went missing. The mystery surrounding her death uncovers a horrifying cover-up within the Archdiocese of Baltimore in this chilling seven-part documentary series.
Amanda Knox spent nearly four years in an Italian prison following the 2007 murder of her roommate, a fellow exchange student. She was exonerated in 2015. This doc features interviews with Knox and the people closest to her.
This is the story of how 12-year-old Jan Broberg was abducted (twice) in her small church community in Idaho in 1974.
Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Present-day interviews, archival footage, and audio recordings comprise this doc on notorious American serial killer Ted Bundy.
If murder isn’t too dark for you right now, you might want to check out this two-season series from 2018. It’s told from the perspective of death-row inmates who were convicted of capital murder.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez went from New England Patriots tight-end to convicted murderer for the death of Odin Lloyd. This documentary series explores how that happened.
Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak
This 2020 documentary might not be what you want to watch right now, but if you’re into learning about viruses and how to prevent future pandemics, this will be a fascinating—not just terrifying—watch.
Hilary Weaver Hilary Weaver is a freelance writer based in New York who writes about politics, queer issues, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and every woman the Queen has ever made a dame.
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