Self-isolation has left many of us with a lot of time on our hands and there’s only so many times you can binge-watch “Friends” or “The Office” before you start looking for something new. Or, if you’re like me, you struggle to commit to a multi-season series because you get distracted halfway through season one.
But I’ve recently gotten into documentaries because they combine my love of information with my love for shows that last only two hours. There’s plenty of them out there, but I’ve narrowed my list down to my five favorite Netflix documentaries that are perfect for anybody looking to kill a couple of hours.
“Behind the Curve”
“Behind the Curve” focuses on the Flat Earth movement and the people that are a part of it, whether they’re running experiments to prove the world is flat or creating videos to showcase the evidence they’ve gathered.
I myself believe that the planet is a sphere, but the film does a great job of providing insight into why these people believe what they do without calling them “crazy.” The interviewers even have scientists who talk about why the Flat Earthers need to be listened to and not ignored. After I finished watching it, it left me thinking about Flat Earthers in a light I hadn’t thought about before.
While there were plenty of parts I laughed at in disbelief, this documentary is captivating and I’d recommend it to anybody who loves talking about conspiracy theories.
The Fyre Music Festival scandal was a massive failure and I’ve been in love with it ever since it happened in 2017. It was fun to make jokes about the rich kids stuck on the island like it was “Lord of the Flies”, but I also wondered how something could fail on such a big level.
The “FYRE” documentary starts from the very beginning of Fyre Festival’s existence and into the months following its failure. Everything from the poor planning to the lack of funds and too many other factors keep building onto each until it’s one massive train wreck. Every time it looks like things can’t get any worse, they just keep digging themselves in deeper.
Even knowing how the Fyre Festival scandal went down, watching the chaos unfold is unbelievably entertaining. If you remember laughing at the Fyre Festival back then, check out “FYRE” and learn to laugh at it all over again.
For over a decade, Gerald Foos ran a roadside motel where he would take advantage of his guests by spying on them through the air vents he installed in their rooms. He would go up to play the voyeur almost everyday, taking notes about their activities no matter how private they were.
The documentary “Voyeur” follows news reporter Gay Talese as he meets up with Foos to compile all of these voyeuristic activities into a story he can publish. As the documentary goes on, Foos reveals more of the twisted activities he was a part of during his time with the motel. Hearing the voyeur try to justify his own inexcusable actions is fascinating to listen to, especially as they get worse the longer time goes on.
The further you get into “Voyeur”, the harder it gets to tell how much you can trust Foos’ account of events as it begins contradicting other parts of the timeline. It’s a great investigative story and even if it’s difficult to tell what actually happened, it manages to keep you hooked because of how unbelievable it all is.
“Abducted in Plain Sight”
Admittedly, “Abducted in Plain Sight” is a much darker documentary. It focuses on the experiences of Jan Broberg, who was abducted twice by a family friend when she was 12-years-old and 14-years-old. Not only does it include her family’s perspective on the events, Broberg is able to provide a first-hand account of her kidnappings and the mind of the man who took advantage of her.
The story is disturbing, but it demonstrates the lengths that child predators will go through to achieve their goals and the harm they have on a family. Broberg sharing her experiences of the trauma she went through is not a pleasant experience, but it’s one that I found myself captivated by. Knowing that she survived and recovered from it makes it even better as it shows that there’s still hope.
“Prelude to War’
This is a bit of an odd choice, but I’m still recommending “Prelude to War”. This documentary was actually published in 1942 to explain why the United States was entering World War II. While we know why because we have history books, this is straight out of the era and it shows.
Some parts of the show have not aged well and border on being propaganda. But in a way, it was meant to be. The way the movie villainizes German, Italian and Japanese citizens made my jaw drop. If a World War II documentary tried to be like this today, it would have never been made.
But that’s exactly what makes this documentary interesting. There’s no history to look back on because the documentary is a part of history. That alone is a reason to watch this documentary, especially if you’re a history buff.