Five of the best docuseries to watch on Netflix
It’s a difficult time for everyone around the world at the moment with the coronavirus pandemic forcing most people to remain at home. While social distancing and isolation are the smart things to do at this time, there is no doubt boredom can become a factor.
It is little wonder then that streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have seen huge increases in daily viewership. The enormous success of Netflix’s Tiger King – the seven-part documentary looking at the bizarre (and murderous?) world of big cat and exotic animal ownership in the United States – is a direct result of the world’s current social conditions.
However, Tiger King is just one of many docuseries in the vast libraries of streaming companies, and there are many more to help you pass the time during the coronavirus lockdown.
Below are five docuseries in five different categories available on Netflix that you should add to your “My List”, plus a few honourable mentions to give you even more options.
Best crime docuseries – Evil Genius (2018)
We are going to take it as fact that you have already watched Making A Murderer, Netflix’s flagship crime documentary that ushered in the genre for the company. If you haven’t, start there first. For everyone else, Evil Genius might be the best crime docuseries on Netflix.
This four-part, head-spinning series focuses on the death of pizza delivery man Brian Wells, who in 2003 attempted to rob a bank while wearing a collar bomb. As it transpires, the plot is far thicker than that, with scavenger hunts, accomplices, coercion, conspiracy and the involvement of at least four other people, including Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong – is she the evil genius? You’ll have to watch to found out.
Other crime docuseries worth earmarking are Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, Abducted in Plain Sight, Don’t F**k With Cats, and The Staircase.
Best human injustice docuseries – Time: The Kalief Browder Story (2017)
As well as crime documentaries and series, Netflix has become a prominent platform for shows focusing on many types of injustice, commonly criminal injustice. Perhaps the most hard-hitting of these docuseries is Time: The Khalief Browder Story.
This six-part series details the failings of New York City’s criminal justice system that resulted in 16-year-old Kalief Browder spending three years at the notoriously dangerous Rikers Island prison awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack, despite zero evidence. To make matters worse, two of those years were spent in solitary confinement.
You will be perplexed, enraged, and heartbroken by this story, but you’ll also be inspired by Kalief Browder’s bravery, courage and remarkable strength of spirit.
Other docuseries with a similar theme to shortlist include The Confession Tapes, The Keepers, and The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez. While not a docuseries, When They See Us – the true story of the Central Park Five – is essential viewing for anyone interested in more stories related to human injustice.
Best scandal docuseries – Dirty Money (2018)
Ruthlessness, corruption, wealth won at any cost – there are few things more intriguing to watch than the processes of human greed, particularly when fuelled by illegal activities, which much of the time, it is.
Dirty Money shines a light on some of the most famous financial scandals in recent history, including the Volkswagen Emissions scandal and the infamous 1MDB scandal in Malaysia.
There is even an episode dedicated to US President Donald Trump, who built a vast business empire comprising real estate, hotels and entertainment complexes, and various side ventures – many of which failed and were shrouded in dodgy deals. Indeed, there is something ironic about Trump investing in entertainment complexes in an attempt to capitalise on the mathematics of casino games when they proved the costliest in his business portfolio.
While you are sure to be angered by the levels of greed and blatant corruption, Dirty Money is a brilliantly produced series.
Other series in this category to check out include The Pharmacy, The Family, and Trump: An American Dream. Many scandal-based documentaries are feature-length instead of series, so it’s worth taking a look at Terms and Conditions May Apply, Betting On Zero, and We Steal Secrets.
Best sports docuseries – Cheer (2020)
For sports fans, there is a seemingly endless library of sports documentaries and docuseries to watch on Netflix, and a top pick for this category is one of the early successes of this year. Cheer follows the Navarro College Cheerleading Team – the best cheerleading program in the United States – as they prepare for the national championships.
Created by the same people that brought us Last Chance U (another of Netflix’s must-watch sports docuseries), Cheer takes a fascinating look inside the brutal and ruthless world of competitive cheerleading and is packed with inspirational protagonists, including coach Monica Aldama, and heart-tugging storylines.
Other sports docuseries that should be added to your list include Sunderland ‘Til I Die, Losers, Cricket Fever, and Formula 1: Drive To Survive.
Best food docuseries – Chef’s Table (2015)
Food is the ultimate universal language, playing a key role in cultures around the world and bringing people together. There is no shortage of food-related shows on Netflix but the biggest and most popular remains the best.
Chef’s Table, which has now released five seasons, documents remarkable chefs from around the world as they use their creativity and brilliance – often in the face of adversity and resistance – to help shape the evolution of cooking. From New York to Slovenia, Thailand to Sao Paulo, and Italy to rural areas of Norway, Chef’s Table is a fascinating insight into the lives and minds of cooking pioneers.
Once you have completed Chef’s Table, consider Ugly Delicious, The Final Table, Street Food, and Sugar Rush.
The editorial unit