Dramas and comedies are always fun to sink into, especially when you can binge episodes of them on Netflix whenever you want, but sometimes a factual documentary is what you’re looking for- and can be equally as entertaining. Luckily, there’s loads of new high quality documentaries coming out all the time on streaming, and we’ve rounded up the best of some of the most recent ones.

A lot of them are available on Netflix, which makes things simple, and there’s a wide array of subjects tackled- from strange and enthralling true crime stories to portrayals of individuals who’ve struggled and achieved in life. Some are films that can be watched in an evening, and others are extensive multi part series to spread out over a week (or weekend).

Trust No One- The Hunt For The Crypto King

One of the biggest technologies to explode in recent years has been cryptocurrency: digital currency usually traded in tokens, and very occasionally (as with Bitcoin or Ethereum) highly lucrative. The open ended nature of crypto, and the money made off it- sometimes in the billions- makes it a target for scams and theft. Netflix’s Trust No One tells the story of a cryptocurrency’s effects spilling into the real world.¬†QuadrigaCX, a crypto exchange for buying and selling the stuff, had began to run into problems several years after it’s development, which were exacerbated suddenly when its CEO and founder Gerald Cotton was found dead in India. This unfortunately meant that investors on the exchange were now unable to access their crypto, and wild theories as to what actually happened to Cotton soon abounded. Did he take his own life? Did someone kill him for their own gain? Did he fake his own death to escape with the money? No-one knows, and a group of irate investors attempt to solve the case for themselves, and track down their $250 million investment in the first place. Think virtual currency on a screen couldn’t make interesting viewing? Think again.

Available on: Netflix

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives

One of the most talked about documentaries so far, Bad Vegan tells the odd, yet sad tale of Sarma Melngaili, a vegan chef whose vegan cooking business empire fell apart due to fraud. Having been successful with her vegan cookery for several years, Melngali began dating Anthony Strangis (using the alias Shane Fox) who defrauded her out of vast sums of money and eventually the control of the entire business. His claims, many of which Melgaili believed, were often absurd, with the promise to make her beloved dog immortal perhaps the most outlandish of all. There’s also plenty of celebrity involvement in this show: Melngali’s creations were endorsed by Bill Clinton and Alicia Silverstone amongst others, and she also formed a friendship with 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin, who became a fan of her restaurant Pure Food and Wine. In fact, it was Baldwin’s nudging of her to join Twitter that ended up connecting her with Strangis in the first place. The docuseries isn’t too long, at four 45-60 minute episodes, and is worth watching for the truly bizarre story it tells. Read more here.

Available on: Netflix

Our Great National Parks

We only recently included this in our list of Netflix shows to watch in April, but we’re including it on this list because, well, how often does a TV show come along hosted by a former US President? Barack Obama’s Our Great National Parks¬†sees him present a wildlife documentary about the biggest and best national parks in the world, spanning across all of the world’s continents. Animals like whales, elephants and monkeys will be front and centre, but there’ll also be a general message of the importance of conservation of wildlife, especially with the growing and pressing issue of climate change. The new series will arrive on 13th April, and have five parts, all narrated by Obama. It has some reputable documentary talent behind it too, like producer James Honeybourne, who also helped to bring Blue Planet II to our screens. Michelle Obama’s Becoming is also available on Netflix, if you’re interested in the other productions the couple have produced. Our Great National Parks will certainly be a novelty- and the former occupant of the White House seems to be more popular in Britain than across the pond anyway.

Available on: Netflix

Phoenix Rising

Actress Evan Rachel Wood is the focus of this show from HBO, which deals with the subject of her sexual assault and abuse at the hands of her former boyfriend Marilyn Manson. The two part series charts her life as an actor, her allegations against Manson and her rise as an activist to help others seek justice in light of their own abuse. Wood felt, and still feels, that the justice system in America and other countries does not do enough to aid and believe these victims, and that society still seems to have a hard time believing and not dismissing outright allegations of abuse. Not only does the series explore and detail her own struggles in speaking out, but it also examines how difficult it is for domestic abuse victims to get their stories heard and dealt with. The show’s name comes from her work testifying before the California Senate to pass the Phoenix Act, a law to expand the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases. The show deals with a difficult and harrowing subject, but it is certainly worth watching for its eye-opening value.

Available on: Sky Documentaries

The Andy Warhol Diaries

Chronicling the life and times of one of the most important figures in modern art, The Andy Warhol Diaries is a six part series on Netflix that’s a must for anyone interested in art. For someone so talked and written about, it makes sense to hear about Warhol’s life from the man himself- this series is based on the diaries that he dictated and were later published in 1989. The aim of the show is to make the enigmatic figure more understandable, even if the show has to mention not to trust fully in Warhol’s version of events. You’ll step into the mind of someone who held a deep dislike of themselves, hating his own appearance and sexuality, and believed himself to be a freak. The story is told through his obsessions and relationships, not just his art, and the series makes for truly great viewing as it paints a very real and human picture of the man who has a unique place in our pop culture.

Available on: Netflix

The Puppet Master: Hunting The Ultimate Conman

Another tale of cons and deception, The Puppet Master, which we covered back when it released at the end of January, tells the story of Robert Henry-Freegard, one of the most audacious scammers in recent years. Beginning in the 1980s, Hendy-Freegard would con unsuspecting visitors to his car dealership, claiming that he was a member of Scotland Yard or MI5, and that the victim was in mortal danger. The threat usually came from the IRA, as he claimed, and he would convince them to hand over money and cut off all contact with their family in order to protect them. The three part series focuses on particular on siblings Sophie and Jake Clifton, whose mother began a relationship with the criminal con artist a decade ago, and has since disappeared and has not made contact with them. The result of the series is a fascinating, yet sad story of a family separated by a shameless manipulator. You can read more about the documentary here.

Available on: Netflix

Louis Theroux- Forbidden America

One of the world’s most popular and trusted documentarians, Louis Theroux returns for a new show in his inimitable style with Forbidden America. This new show, available from iPlayer, sees Theroux tackle taboo topics in modern America. The first episode delve into the newest incarnation of the American far right: a movement “born out of the internet but making its presence felt in the real world”, opposed to the rapidly changing American political and social landscape. He uncovers how, despite bans and “deplatforms” on mainstream social media, there are still huge audiences following these ideas and rhetoric, often under the guise of supposed irony. The second episode examines the new rap scene developing in America, specifically the state of Florida. While there’s plenty of creativity, many of the most popular figures in the genre are accused of criminal lifestyles, though they still win over legions of fans with heavy social media promotion and showing the hardships of reality. Finally, the last episode focuses on the adult entertainment industry, something Theroux has covered before, and how it’s changing toward sites like OnlyFans and attempting to call out predators in the more traditional porn industry. Like with all of Louis Theroux’s work, it’s hugely watchable, as well as informing.

Available on: BBC iPlayer

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing

This Netflix documentary film looks at the world of aviation accidents, with a specific spotlight on Boeing, one of the world’s biggest plane manufacturers. It sharply criticises how, by focusing more on money making and capitalisation, the company neglected its plane designs and constructions and made them potentially less safe than they should be. It uses the case studies of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which both crashed and both used the Boeing 737 Max airplane design. The film makes us question and think about the safety of the method of transport we use all the time, and whether it is indeed being sacrificed for profit. There’s plenty of insights into the technical aspects of planes which can be a little bit tricky to follow, but if you stick past those you’ll find a deeply enthralling documentary into something that could have been prevented, and a brand name that’s almost a byword for “plane”. The documentary received praise and acclaim when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Available on: Netflix


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