8 Thought-Provoking Netflix Documentaries

Updated 09/16/19
@gerihirsch

There's no better way to spend a lazy weekend than canceling plans and curling up with Netflix. In addition to your regular lineup of movies and TV shows, consider adding a Netflix documentary to your queue. Netflix has a wide-range of thought-provoking documentaries, covering everything from food, to nature, to even philosophy documentaries. We rounded up our favorite Netflix documentaries, so no matter what your interests are, you'll definitely find a few to binge-watch.

1. Minimalism: From director Matt D'Avella, Minimalism puts America's obsession with materialism under a microscope. It follows various people who've embraced a more minimalistic lifestyle and how this philosophy has come to recalibrate their outlook on life as a result.

2. The Seventies and Eighties: This short docuseries from CNN is ideal for history buffs and pop culture fanatics. By dissecting the main political, cultural, and economical moments of the time, the two series aim to identify the zeitgeist of each decade in eight short episodes.

3. Planet Earth II: This sequel to the Emmy Award–winning Planet Earth series is just as visually stimulating as it is absolutely fascinating—and you don't have to be an animal lover to enjoy it. Part II traverses islands, mountains, jungles, deserts, grasslands, and cities across the planet. Be ready for some awe-inspiring scenery.

4. Chef's Table: If you love cooking (or even just looking at delicious food), this Emmy-nominated Netflix original docuseries is for you. Each episode takes you inside the private world of a professional chef, exposing their unique approach to cooking, and the way their cuisine is shaping the world at large.

5. What the Health: While this Kip Andersen documentary has garnered mixed reviews, it makes a thought-provoking connection between diet and disease, as well as the healthcare industry's role in perpetuating this vicious cycle. Though in the end it does push a vegan agenda, it's definitely it's worth watching.

6. The Keepers: Warning: This is one of the more depressing documentaries on the streaming site.The Keepers is part murder mystery, part crime thriller, and part exposé—and it's all true. Told entirely from the viewpoint of the victims, the docuseries sheds an important light on sexual abuse in the Catholic church and ultimately advocates for truth, honesty, and retribution.

7. American Factory: This documentary is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, and that alone might intrigue you enough to sit down and watch it. It gives a first-hand look at the defunct General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio, which a Chinese billionaire has invested in and turned into a glass-making factory for his company. It portrays the end of the working world and the rise of machines.

8. Fyre: Possibly one of the most talked-about documentaries ever on Netflix, Fyre tells the story behind the infamous Fyre Festival, the 2017 music festival scam head up by Billy McFarland. The documentary features an abundance of behind-the-scenes footage, showing how attendees arrived in the Bahamas to find what effectively was a hurricane disaster site, rather than an opulent beach party.

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