Everyone loves a good, riveting documentary to sink into (and then tell all your friends about)- and luckily for us, Netflix excels at making them. You’ve probably already binged hits like the Tinder Swindler, Our Father and Bad Vegan, it can be a bit tricky to choose what to dive into next.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of some of the best documentaries on Netflix that are really worth a watch- from the world’s wealthiest pet to engrossing sports drama, to a certain headline-dominating royal couple.
The best documentaries on Netflix
Pamela: A Love Story
The life and star power of Pamela Anderson became relevant again in 2022 with Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan. The show had mostly positive reviews- James’ portrayal of the star in particular- but was criticised as exploitative by some commenters, including Anderson herself. This makes the upcoming Pamela: A Love Story, a Netflix documentary Anderson was working on when she heard about the Hulu series, all the more intriguing. It’ll see the Baywatch star tell her story in her own words with frank interviews about the effects of fame and fortune. Everything is on the table here, Netflix says, including her rocky relationships and the infamous sex tape scandal. It’s a chance to see the woman behind the icon. It’s set to arrive on Netflix on 31st January.
Pamela: A Love Story drops on Netflix 31st January
It’s a premise that almost sounds like it was made up to be a spoof Netflix documentary, but it’s (mostly) genuine: a rich countess dies and leaves her fortune entirely to her dog. With nearly $500 million in the bank, several Italian mansions and a host of other luxuries, Gunther seems to be happily living the high life. But while he might be chowing down on fabulous steaks, questions are asked about whether those around him (a 27-strong team of employees) are taking advantage of the vast fortune. There’s a suggestion that Gunther’s wealth is nowhere near as high as claimed, and his eccentric handler also (as seen in the series trailer) states that Gunther was “cloned.” It might sound madcap, but it could be one of the best documentaries on Netflix this year- and you can judge for yourself when it releases on 1st February.
Gunther’s Millions drops on Netflix 1st February
Harry & Meghan
You probably don’t need us to tell you to watch Harry & Meghan, but it’s hard to leave it out of this list: the documentary became one of the biggest sensations last year, with an almost unbreakable rolling coverage of what it had in store. The story of how Prince Harry met and fell for Meghan Markle, their marriage and their subsequent decision to leave the monarchy is all laid bare here, in their own words. The three parts give an insight into their lives both before and after first entering the spotlight as a couple, their views on the Royal Family and how they feel it should change and their personal relationship. You might be totally addicted to the endless furore over the two, or are sick of mentions of “Spare”, but Harry & Meghan is still an entertaining and somewhat historical watch.
Watch Harry & Meghan on Netflix now
Break Point isn’t looking to become one of the best documentaries about tennis, it wants to be THE documentary about tennis, and it’s a seriously worthy contender. Made in the mold of Netflix’s Drive to Survive and Amazon’s All or Nothing, Break Point follows some of the biggest stars in the tennis world as they embark on the tennis tour and vie to cement their place in sporting history. The show is made in association with the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and the WTA Women’s Tennis Association to give an insight like no other into what it takes to win. Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini, Paula Badosa, Maria Shakkari and Felix Aurger-Aliassime are just some of the names that feature, as the series focuses on the Australian and French Opens in the first part, as well as the US Open, ATP and WTA finals and Wimbledon in the second, set to be released in June.
Break Point drops on Netflix in June
A woman stands trial accused of murdering her husband, and while the defendant doesn’t deny she killed him, she says she did so in self-defence. This is the premise of Killer Sally, one of Netflix’s more unique true crime documentaries. Centering around the titular Sally McNeil, the doc delves into the events that led to the fateful day when Sally fired a shotgun at her husband Ray after a heated argument, killing him. The trained bodybuilder Sally had become something of a minor celebrity in the 80s and 90s bodybuilding world for her stage name, Killer Sally, and appearances in mail-order home videos. But her relationship with fellow bodybuilder Ray became slowly more toxic, with fights and arguments often turning nasty, culminating in the Valentine’s Day murder incident. Her 1996 trial, and the arguments that she couldn’t have been a victim of violence due to her physique, make for a compelling watch.
Watch Killer Sally on Netflix now
Sr., which released in November, was one of best documentaries on Netflix last year, with a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and scoring a National Board of Review Award for Best Documentary Feature. It focuses on the relationship between Hollywood superstar Robert Downey Jr. and his father, Robert Downey Sr, as well as their respective careers. While Jr is known for his roles in The Avengers films and Zodiac, Sr. had a career largely in directing, with his underground Putney Swope, a satire on the advertising world and race issues in Hollywood being particularly lauded. Downey Sr. died in 2021, and his son recounts his life and career in this 90-minute film as a tribute. It’s a heart-warming insight into father-son relationships, as well as a look at a lesser-seen side of the man best known for Iron Man.
Watch Sr. on Netflix now
Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
This doc came out at the end of last year, though it somewhat flew under the radar (no pun intended). Having constantly trailed Coke in the battle of soft drinks, Pepsi decided in 1996 to go on an advertising blitz that centred around using labels from Pepsi’s products as Pepsi points to claim free items, like glasses, jackets, and other goodies. The company decided to up the ante, stating that for a cool seven million Pepsi points (or $700,000 in spending), you could win a $20 million dollar fighter jet. No one believed getting that many points were feasible – but two college students decided to find out for themselves, and when they asked for a fighter jet upon gathering the necessary points, Pepsi refused to give them a jet, resulting in a legal battle. It’s a bizarre up-and-down story that captures a certain 90s feeling, and it’s a ton of fun.
Watch Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? on Netflix now
Even if you’re not into sport, Fifa: Uncovered is still one of the best documentaries on Netflix to binge right now if you’re into stories of murky power struggles and how-do-they-get-away-with-it corruption. The 2022 World Cup was rife with controversy due to its hosting by Qatar, with questions asked on how it ended up being awarded the tournament. FIFA: Uncovered looks into this controversy and more, with an overview of the world’s chief football governing body and its morally dubious history. You’ll see how FIFA turned football into a hugely commercialised business, became increasingly corrupt under former president Sepp Blatter, and eventually was investigated by the FBI for racketeering and corruption. There’s also plenty on how global politics shaped the history of the World Cup and football in general, with Qatar and Russia under Vladimir Putin vying to host the prestigious event in order to boost the reputation of their countries. It’s a truly fascinating watch and one that will leave you feeling a bit queasy.
Watch Fifa: Uncovered on Netflix now