If there has been anything positive to come from the 2020 global pandemic, it’s the ability to shamelessly binge watch TV and not face the wave of guilt brought on by friends who desperately want a night out at the bar. Introverts everywhere can finally sit back with ease knowing that not only are their plans to stay home societally accepted, it’s preferred, and for some of us, there’s nothing better than a bottle of wine and the remote control all to ourselves.
Netflix in particular has been one of the more popular streaming apps with an impressive 31 percent of household streamers opting to pick Netflix over Hulu (12 percent) or Amazon Prime (8 percent). With over 3,000 unique categories to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming to narrow down a new original TV show or movie to pick from, for there’s nothing worse than spending two hours on a film to absolutely despise it.
One trend that has spiked this year is indulging in documentaries as Netflix has recently reported viewers spent twice as much time watching documentaries in 2020 than in year’s past. Perhaps viewers are hoping to expand their minds and learn about a topic they’ve never quite looked into before or maybe they needed a vast switch from watching too much 90 Day Fiancé. Whatever the reason, more and more are experiencing how powerful and moving a great documentary can be. See our all-time favorite picks below and let us know some of your favorites! (We promise no Tiger King this time)
**Minor spoilers may be discussed**
The 13th is a 2016 documentary created by legendary filmmaker Ava DuVernay, timelining the treatment of Black Americans in the United States. From the release of A Birth of a Nation, to Nixon’s War on Drugs campaign, DuVernay details the hardships Black citizens have undergone since the beginning of our country’s origin.
With expert commentary from some of the most influential Black voices, including Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, and political activist Angela Davis, The 13th is disturbing and downright painful at times, but is a necessary watch for mankind. With the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, The 13th sadly proves that the United States still has a long way to go in terms of its education and compassion for the Black community, and this documentary beautifully details what every American should be shouting from the rooftops; Black Lives Matter.
One of Us
There’s a prominent community that resides in Williamsburg and Crown Heights, embedded in the heart of Brooklyn, New York, that for years has created a world solely for their own; the Hasidic community. One of Us follows three former Hasidic Jew’s as they ex-communicate from the only life they’ve ever known.
With reports of abuse and extreme sheltering, Etty, Ari, and Chani bravely tell their own unique stories from the backlash they face for divorce, to the dissolvement of parental rights, to rape, assault, and betrayal, One of Us is riveting, shedding light on the emotional turmoil many face being born into a religion or culture they don’t feel connected to. Their bold stories will definitely pull at the proverbial heartstrings, leaving you to undeniably to cheer for these three daring protagonists.
The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson
This eye-opening documentary covers the life and death of Marsha P. Johnson; a prominent gay icon during the Stonewall uprising and the civil unrest that took place during the 1970s.
Marsha’s lifeless body was found in July 1992, right off the Christopher Pier of the Hudson River in New York City. Although police ruled her death a suicide, many friends, fans, and fellow trans in the community have rallied against the police who have failed to properly investigate events that transpired during the last days of her life.
This heartbreaking documentary follows Marsha’s friend, Victoria Cruz, a counselor for the Anti-Violence Project and advocate for the LGBTQ community who tries to piece together the last moments of the Gay activists’ final days. The lost footage of Marsha, and fellow advocate Sylvia Rivera, protesting and pleading for the rights of the gay and trans community is both distressing and liberating.
From talks about Marsha’s death being at the hands of the Mafia, to a potential police cover-up, The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson covers the atrocities many in the trans community still face today.
New Zealand journalist David Farrier embarks on a cryptic journey, visiting the darker side of tourism. This eight-episode documentary explores everything from real-life vampires in the heart of New Orleans, to witnessing exorcisms in Mexico, to probing ghost cities, abandoned islands, and more.
Farrier respectfully enters uncharted territories, with a graceful open mind as he meets with some of the most eccentric souls, including fans and followers of Charles Manson, Voodoo worshippers, controversial Nazi memorabilia collectors, and more. His dark humor certainly coincides well with the richness of the show. It’s only a shame Netflix did not renew for a second season as most viewers will certainly crave more.
Don’t F**k with Cats
Don’t F**k with Cats not only explores the story of Luka Magnotta, one of Canada’s most prolific killers, but it gets into the minds of the ones responsible for taking him down; a small group of web sleuths who made it their mission to catch the sadistic lunatic after he grotesquely uploaded videos of him torturing, and killing, kittens. This despicable act led to the eventual murder of Jun Lin, an international student who was lured to Magnotta’s apartment where he was gruesomely killed.
True to form, Magnotta recorded the heinous act and uploaded 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick online, leading investigators and the team of web sleuths to trace his every move. With the onset of true crime podcasts, blogs, and documentaries, more and more viewers are becoming captivated with the stories, motives, and psychological explanations of why people kill. And others are taking measures into their own hands.
Don’t F**k with Cats is a difficult watch at times, especially for animal lovers, but it’s gripping as you find yourself intensely rooting for the amateur web sleuths who built this tight-knit community and helped police find a maniac killer before he struck again.
Cat people: definitely not a group to mess with.