Feeling lazy this week and in the mood to lounge around and be mildly unproductive? If so, I’m right there with you! I’m naturally a lazy person, but even in a state of lounging and “doing nothing” I really enjoy stimulating my mind and staying informed by watching good docuseries. I’m a documentary junkie and find them to be an easy, digestible way to stay informed without sifting through numerous articles online or reading multiple books. It probably explains why I’m always in a constant state of panic about the world and its current state, but we’ll leave that topic for another post. Docuseries have particularly been my newest favorite thing to binge-watch since they typically cover multiple subject matters in various episodes or expands on one idea in several parts. So, if you’re in the mood for a binge-worthy docuseries that may slightly make your blood boil but drive you to actively stay informed, here are 5 recommendations.
This docuseries is eye-opening in various ways and focuses on the problems in the process of supplying food. Rotten reveals unsavory truths and exposes hidden forces that shape what we eat. Each episode deals with one food product and shows interviews with manufacturers, distributors, and others involved in the process. Season 1 covers corruption, crime, and controversies in the food industry, such as the increased demand for honey and it’s hidden additives, the rise of peanut allergies in the United States, the cutthroat practices of chicken farmers, and the alarming prevalence of fraudulent seafood in our markets. Season 2 has kicked off to a great start with the 1st episode addressing how the rise of avocado has become a magnet for cartels in Mexico. If you like to learn more about the governing bodies surrounding our food, then this is an informative docuseries to watch.
Similar to Vox’s YouTube videos, Explained is a collaboration with Vox Media and Netflix. Each episode is on average 16 – 18 mins and discusses topics that drive our lives or the world. Some of my favorite episodes from the first season are The Racial Wage Gap, Why Women Are Paid Less, & The World’s Water Crisis. The first season is available in its entirety and new episodes are available every Wednesday for season 2. There’s also a separate limited series which I highly recommend called The Mind, Explained and it covers topics such as anxiety, mindfulness, and memory. Overall, Explained is a great watch especially if you already enjoy Vox’s channel on YouTube.
3. Our Planet
Are you a lover of all thing’s nature? Then this docuseries will be right up your alley. Narrated by the soothing voice of David Attenborough just like BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet, Our Planet is a groundbreaking, four-year collaboration between Netflix, Silverback Films and WWF. It focuses on specific environments from forests to high seas to “frozen worlds” and beyond while highlighting the effects of climate change on our planet. This series is beautifully documented with gorgeous, jaw-dropping shots of the Earth’s most beautiful, intriguing, inscrutable, surprising wildlife. It explores the rich natural wonders, iconic species and wildlife spectacles that remain, and reveals the key issues that urgently threaten their existence. If you’re a fan of nature documentaries and would like to get a firsthand view of how the earth is rapidly changing in the wake of climate change then this series will not disappoint.
4. Living Undocumented
Living undocumented follows the lives of 8 immigrants and their experience with the immigration system in the United States. It’s eye-opening to see the leaps and bounds people go through in the hope of leaving behind the violence, poverty, and hardship in their home country and risking it all in hope of a better life for themselves and their families in the United States. Most importantly, the series highlights how flawed and broken the immigration system is and showcases the difficulties many experience from through the legal immigration process. As an immigrant who was fortunate to become a naturalized citizen, many parts of this was hard to watch. It reminded me of some of the hardships my family and I experienced on our path to citizenship. If you are unfamiliar with the process of migrating to the United States, Living Undocumented gives you a glimpse of that process through 8 very different accounts of the system.
Last but not least, this final recommendation is for the medical mystery lovers out there. Based on the New York Times magazine column with Dr. Lisa Sanders, Diagnosis uses the power of crowdsourcing as a tool to diagnoses mysterious and rare medical conditions.
In it, Sanders speaks to people with mysterious, sometimes life-threatening illnesses and puts their symptoms out to a massive audience in the hopes of finding a diagnosis. In most cases, crowdsourcing has helped give answers to people and directed them to seek out the best treatment for their illness. It is very interesting to watch how putting something out in the world such as an unknown medical diagnosis and using the power of crowdsourcing helped people find the best treatment that in some cases, saved their lives!
Bonus: The Devil We Know
Though not a docuseries, The Devil We Know will surely cause a bit of outrage (it did for me). This documentary covers the rise of Teflon and how it’s maker DuPont covered up the potential harm caused by chemicals used to make Teflon for decades. It highlights the flaws of corporate America and how profit is often put ahead of basic human rights and the lengths companies will go to keep people misinformed and hide shady practices.
Do you know a documentary or docuseries worth bingeing? We would love to hear some of your favorites. Comment below and tell us more so we can help others stay informed!