The 10 best documentaries on Netflix

Cem Topcam on 27 April 2020
Man watching Netflix on a tablet.

Now is as good a time as any to get your teeth into a good documentary. And to save you endless scrolling, we’ve picked out some of the weirdest and most wonderful that Netflix has to offer.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Based on the book of the same name, this series follows chef and award-winning author Samin Nosrat on a culinary journey around the globe. Her enthusiasm for food is boundless as she explores the principles of what makes it so delicious, sampling cuisine from far flung lands and teaching some of her favourite recipes. You might even learn to cook something that’ll impress your housemates when all this is over. 

Tiger King

Where to start with Tiger King? The most memed documentary in the history of memes and documentaries is every bit as wild as the internet’s response might suggest. Actually, wilder. The show follows Joe Exotic, an eccentric Oklahoma zoo owner who finds time in-between breeding tigers and running for (actual, real-life) president to plot the murder of his biggest rival. Words cannot do this show justice, but believe us, it’ll have you gripped at every turn. 

Abstract

Each episode of Abstract features a creative genius at the top of their game when it comes to art and design, from photography to typography, illustration to shoemaking. You’ll learn what inspires great artists like Olafur Eliasson, Paula Scher and Nike design legend Tinker Hatfield to create world-changing art in all its forms. Life-affirming stuff that made us beam at points. 

Hip-Hop Evolution

Ever wondered how a genre came out of nowhere to take over the world? Wonder no more. Get to know the key players in hip-hop’s foundations like Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, Public Enemy and N.W.A before delving into the East Coast/West Coast rivalry that took mainstream culture by storm. Revealing interviews. Phenomenal music. What more do you need on lockdown?

Explained

Any student worth their salt will be familiar with the popular YouTube series of the same name, and luckily, so were Netflix execs when they gave publisher Vox a series on their platform. Explained takes big ideas and explains them (duh) simply, with a delightful mix of animation, interviews with experts and A-list narration. Start with the science and nature series (pandemic episode: optional) and go from there. 

Cheer

Forget everything you think you know about cheerleading. Forget every stereotype from every 90s teen movie and put Cheer on, right this minute. The six-part series follows the Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team from Texas, as they prepare for the biggest competition of their lives. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be amazed by the hard work, dedication and athleticism on show. Respect, cheerleaders. 

Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends

Louis Theroux, with his charming and disarming personality that even the world’s most dangerous criminals can’t resist, is an institution at this point. And luckily for you, his first series with the BBC is on Netflix! Join the journalist as he explores some of the weirdest subcultures the USA has to offer, from UFO believers and survivalists to swingers and professional wrestlers. 

Planet Earth

Speaking of institutions, what would a binge-watching experience be without the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough, guiding you through nature’s wonders? Trash, that’s what. Planet Earth takes us to the South Pole to meet emperor penguins, the Australian outback to meet red kangaroos and to the jungles of New Guinea, teeming with vibrant colours and fascinating wildlife. Get to know the big rock we’re spinning on and all of its inhabitants a little better! 

The Game Changers

The Game Changers follows mixed martial artist James Wilks on his road to recovery from a career-threatening injury. He travels the world speaking to experts in the field of nutrition, seeking to find out the truth about meat, protein and the human body. This is a real eye-opener, and manages to outline the benefits of a plant-based diet without going down the preachy route. There’s even some Arnold Schwartzenegger thrown in for good measure, so you know it’s good. 

Don’t F*** With Cats

With all the spare time on your hands, much of it online, you’re probably going to relate to some of this series’ heroes. Don’t F*** With Cats is a mind-blowing account of how a group of virtual friends brought a killer to justice from their desktops, all in the name of our feline friends. This isn’t for the faint hearted but is definitely riveting watch. 

We’ll be back soon with 10 more recommendations on things to watch during lockdown. In the meantime, stay safe and happy viewing! 

Got some other favourite documentaries on Netflix? Let us know at @studenthutuk on Twitter.

Cem Topcam
Cem Topcam on 27 April 2020