Netflix is known for its TV series – from classics like Friends and The Office to newer sensations like Shameless and New Girl, Netflix has a binge-worthy show for everyone. But in all the hype over its TV shows, one of the best aspects of Netflix gets neglected: the documentaries!
Before you stop reading because “documentaries are boring,” remember that the documentaries on Netflix are NOT the ones you used to watch in middle school. These are high quality films made to entertain as much as they educate. And when you’re done watching, you seriously feel so smart and knowledgeable… at least on one topic. In case you need help getting started with your newest hobby of documentary-watching,
Here are five of my favorites on Netflix!
1. The Propaganda Game
Ever wondered what really goes on in North Korea? Don’t worry, you still will after watching this documentary. When I read that a Spanish filmmaker was granted exclusive access to North Korea and this was the result, I assumed I would learn all the dirty secrets about North Korea that we’ve heard about for years. Wrong! No spoilers, but it’s called “The Propaganda Game” because, guess what, North Korea is really good at propaganda. And they certainly made a solid effort to show this Spaniard a peaceful utopia where everyone is perfectly happy. Testimonies from escapees show evidence to the contrary, but it’s up to you to decide what’s real and what’s fake when you watch this super intriguing (and somewhat disturbing) doc.
2. Don’t Call Me Crazy
This is hands-down my favorite documentary currently on Netflix. It’s a series of three episodes (I’m hoping they make more!) about an adolescent psychiatric treatment facility in Britain. It shows the real experiences of several teens who suffer from a range of psychological disorders. You really find yourself rooting for these kids and at the same time, learn a lot about how treatment works for many disorders. Overall, this film provides a much-needed perspective on what it’s really like to live with a severe mental health concern, and is a must-watch for anyone with an interest in psychology.
3. Living on One Dollar
In this documentary, four young American guys travel to Guatemala, where they attempt to survive on a dollar a day for two months. This is the extreme poverty in which many Guatemalans live, and these friends get a hard dose of reality when they realize how different it is from the way most Americans live. You’ll learn a lot about Guatemalan culture from this doc, and it’s pretty amazing to see how the Americans are forced to adapt.
Here’s another story about four American men- except this time, they’re modern day cowboys riding mustangs from Mexico to Canada, in a beautiful exploration of the “Wild West” and the bond between person and horse. The once-wild mustangs were captured by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and put up for adoption to the public. These four friends used their horseback journey to encourage the adoption of mustangs, many of whom are forced to wait in BLM corrals for years. It’s inspiring, emotional, and a true adventure story – definitely worth the watch.
5. DMT: The Spirit Molecule
This is definitely the most “intellectual” documentary on the list, but don’t let that scare you away- it’s written and produced for normal people (aka not chemists) but somehow makes you feel like you totally understand neuroscience by the end. Basically, all you need to know is that DMT is a psychedelic compound (akin to LSD) that humans produce naturally. And the more you learn about DMT, the more you doubt that the lines between science and spirituality can be firmly defined. So buckle up and get ready for the craziest 74 minutes of Netflix ever!