Now that many of us are going out only when necessary, we may find there isn’t much to do at home. But if you have a Netflix account, then you have a huge library of shows to watch to keep you occupied. It’s even made better now that we can host Netflix Parties and watch movies at the same time with your friends without having to be in the same room.
But is it just me, or does having so many options to watch give you decision paralysis?
So as I wait for the second season of “Snowpiercer” and build up the courage to finish “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” here’s a list of documentaries I can recommend the next time you’re looking to binge watch something entertaining and informative.
The Social Dilemma
There’s no denying that although social media has made global personal communication much easier, it’s led to disturbing problems like misinformation, cyberbullying, and a rise in mental health conditions, like depression and low self-esteem. But as the documentary points out, those who created social media never intended for these consequences to happen.
How did we get to this point?
“The Social Dilemma” interviews pioneers and tech executives who had a hand in shaping the social media sites we know today. It’s difficult to narrow down all the problems social media has caused, and even more difficult to establish a clear solution. But this documentary is an eye-opener, especially for those, like myself, who find themselves checking social media every day.
American Murder: The Family Next Door
Do you hate cheaters? Are you tired of movies that romanticize cheating? Well, here’s a crime documentary that shows how far one man will go to be with his mistress.
You may have seen people talking about this documentary on Netflix and sharing their own conspiracy theories, and for good reason. In 2018, Christopher Watts eventually admits to killing his pregnant wife Shanann and their daughters. It’s revealed that he had planned to kill his family and be with his mistress, Nichol Kessinger.
But here’s where it gets interesting: when police investigated, it looked like Kessinger was simply the other woman who accidentally fell in love with a killer. So when police investigated the murder, Kessinger was so helpful in the investigation that it was her testimony that got Watts sentenced. But based on the documentary’s evidence, it’s possible she knew more about Watts’s plans than she claimed to have originally.
Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
Like a modern-day Nancy Drew, a group of amateur internet sleuths trying to catch the creator of a series of animal cruelty videos end up helping a global investigation trying to catch a killer. The online manhunt shows that with determination and with a strong crowd-sourcing following, you can track down a person anywhere in the world.
“Don’t F**k With Cats” is so riveting that it’s actually one of Netflix’s most-watched documentaries in 2019.
In 2010, a viral video of a man suffocating kittens earns the outrage of animal activist groups, leading to an online manhunt of the video’s creator. The creator turns out to be a Canadian on the run for murder of an international student, and the documentary shows the process on how the internet helped to catch the killer.
Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist
If you liked “Money Heist”, this true crime documentary may interest you. In 2003, a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells entered a bank and claimed he was being forced to commit robbery or else the bomb strapped to his neck would explode.
After the bomb exploded and killed him, friends and family insisted that he was the victim of a crime. But this four-part documentary shows the complex plot masterminded by three individuals and whether or not the pizza bomber really was involved in the plot.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
When the disaster that was Fyre Festival first blew up on social media back in 2017, many of us may only have been focused on the slow burn that was the failed festival itself. But if you’re interested in seeing the behind the scenes footage and first-hand accounts on how Fyre came to be and why it was such a huge failure, Netflix’s “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” is one of two documentaries you can watch (the other being Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud”).
The documentary covers the entire Fyre Festival timeline: from how co-creators Ja Rule and Billy MacFarland decided to host the festival to promote MacFarland’s Fyre app; to the advertising power of the Fyre influencers; to the aftermath of the festival and how it affected everyone involved.
The public only knows about MacFarland’s arrest. But without Netflix’s documentary, we wouldn’t have known about Mary Anne Rowle (and how social media helped her recoup her losses from Fyre). Or the unfortunate Evian Water incident that made Andy King redefine what it meant to “take one for the team.”
Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons
If crime documentaries fascinate you, “Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons” shows you what happens to the criminals who got caught. Two journalists go around the world to see different types of prisons: from the prisons that seek to rehabilitate their inmates, to the prisons that are so understaffed that they rely on other prisoners to establish control.
These journalists are treated like regular prisoners. So there is some amount of security, but there’s always the threat of something going wrong in every episode. There’s even an episode dedicated to two prisons in the Philippines, one of which is in such a bad condition that it remained anonymous and the journalist refused to spend the night in it.
The Disappearance of Madeline McCann
The disappearance of Madeline McCann has arguably been the longest and most high-profile missing child case as it tugs on every parent’s fear: losing a child when you least expect it. But aside from Madeline’s disappearance and search, the show also highlights how fast people can turn on you when things get bleak.
The multi-episode series covers the day of Madeline McCann’s disappearance and the major events that followed. Initially, her parents received a lot of support to help find their missing daughter. But as there are no leads, a new conspiracy claims that her parents might have been involved in their daughter’s disappearance or death, and the support they once had turns into suspicions against them.
OK, so this isn’t technically a documentary – it’s a mockumentary. But I really wanted to put this on the list as a way to balance out all the serious documentaries here. Plus, it really feels like watching an indie documentary, so if you like documentaries trying to solve a crime but enjoy the humor of two documentary hosts trying to talk about juvenile pranks in a serious light, you’d enjoy both seasons of “American Vandal.”
Season One revolves around the question “Who Drew the Dicks?” as a school board seeks to expel a bad student accused of spray-painting penises onto the teachers’ cars. The student claims he is innocent, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Season Two takes the hosts to a wealthy private school where a series of poop-related crimes have taken place, but this time a student has claimed to be the culprit despite the evidence that suggest otherwise.
Netflix has a lot of good movies and documentaries to watch, and I recommend these documentaries in case you ever run out of recommendations or are looking for something new to watch.
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Justine is a Slytherin who loves cosplay, horror fiction, and puns. She is the certified favorite human of her dog, Pud.