Murder, mayhem, mystery and the sexual tension between man and octopus. These are all themes captured by some of the best documentaries on Netflix. Luckily for you, we’ve decided to round up these docos into one place, so you can spend the next few weeks of your life devouring the most insane content you’ll ever set your eyes upon.
We’ve got a whole range of documentaries for you here, ranging from the insane murder doco American Murder, to the story of how two lovely Californians accidentally became the biggest distributors of gay porn in the US, with Circus of Books. So yeah, there’s definitely something for everyone here.
Please take a gander at our list of best documentaries on Netflix, you definitely won’t be as disappointed as the people who bought tickets for Fyre Festival.
My Octopus Teacher
People have conflicting opinions on this one. Either you think My Octopus Teacher is a beautiful exploration of man’s relationship with nature, or it’s about a guy who wants to fuck a octopus.
Craig Foster, a burnt-out documentary filmmaker, returns every day to swim in the freezing cold waters off the coast of South Africa, forming a bond with an octopus unlike anything seen before in marine animal / human relations.
His friendship is endearing, eye-opening, and yes, at times bordering on pornographic, but you should give it a watch anyway.
I give it 5 out of 5 legs.
Beyonce‘s headlining set at Coachella in 2018 was more than a performance: it was a history lesson, a celebration of Black culture, and an era-defining pop-culture moment all in one.
Thankfully, for those of us who didn’t make it to California, Beyoncé and Netflix released a filmed version the following year. Homecoming is a front-row seat to what became known as Beychella, interspersed with intimate footage showing the months of rehearsals and gruelling training it took to make it happen.
I give it 5 out of 5 bees.
Don’t Fuck With Cats
This documentary is not at all what you might expect. Don’t Fuck With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer follows a group of obsessive internet sleuths trying to track down the person responsible for a sickening video where he tortures and kills two kittens. It doesn’t sound like the making of one of the best documentaries on Netflix, but trust me — it is.
After the video goes viral, complete strangers on the internet band together to analyse obscure details (right down to the electrical sockets) to hunt down the perpetrator and bring him to justice. It’s part true crime, part internet doco, and next-level gripping.
Also, it will definitely have you Googling the case afterwards just to find out where they went right – and where they went very, very wrong.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 kittens.
Circus of Books
This doco looks at Karen and Barry Mason, a perfectly straight couple who opened up a bookstore to help distribute hardcore gay porn mags, and eventually wound up running the biggest distribution centre for gay porn in the US, Circus of Books.
It’s a heartwarming story about how a couple who were looking to make a few extra dollars to support their family ended up becoming icons in the queer community, building up a massive base of LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues, including Drag Race winner Alaska, who once worked at the shop.
It’s such an amazing look at a moment in history that most people wouldn’t be aware of, and the best part is it’s directed by the daughter of the couple! Iconic!
I give it 5 out of 5 porno vids.
Abducted In Plain Sight
One of the wildest, most unbelievable, and yes, best documentaries on Netflix that will have you second-guessing everyone you trust. There are just some things that make you think “surely nobody would do that”, and yet this documentary exists to prove you otherwise.
It’s a rather heavy doco that centres around the kidnapping of Jan Broberg from her parents’ family friend. It explores how she was convinced into having sex with him (despite him being 30 years her senior, and her being underaged), because she was told that it would save the world and her family.
The whole time that these gross acts were happening, her parents were completely unaware that the man they trusted was doing all of this. And yeah, nothing I just mentioned even scratches the surface of how batshit this story is. Aliens come up a few times too.
I give it 5 out of 5 “what the fucks”.
The Last Dance
Ever wanted to learn more about Michael Jordan, star of Space Jam? Well, you’re in luck.
This documentary takes a look at Jordan’s final year with the Chicago Bulls before he called it quits on what was an incredible career in basketball.
We’re not the only ones who think this is one of the best documentaries on Netflix — it won an Emmy, so you know it’s fkn good, and it features incredible footage that was gained via an all-access pass granted to the film crew. Not a fan of sports? You’ll still absolutely love the hell out of this interesting look behind the hoops. (I’ll show myself out.)
I give it 4.5 out of 5 home runs. (I dunno I never watched the Footy).
With a full title like “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” you better believe this doco is gonna give you everything you need and more.
This doco looks at 2017’s Fyre Festival, which was promoted by heaps of celebs as the next big thing, but was ultimately a failed project that barely lived up to any of its promises.
The doco has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it has definitely deserved such a score, with its scathing analysis of wealth, social media and how far businesses will go to cover-up their mistakes.
Fyre has to be one of the best documentaries on Netflix, and is also made by the same people who did Tiger King, so you know its good.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 great balls of Fyre.
This New Zealand doco looks at the strange occurrence that is ‘dark tourism’, which is essentially tours that take people through places historically linked to death or immense tragedy. Think like, extremely haunted houses or sites linked to WW2 horrors. Yeah.
Journalist David Farrier hits up a couple of these dark tourism sites around the world in each ep, and it’s both intense and interesting at the same time.
I give it 4 out of 5 tourist brochures.
While it really is one of the best documentaries on Netflix, I truly cannot put into words just how fucked this documentary is, so please just watch it for yourself.
Without giving too much away, it’s the chilling recount of Chris Watts, who murdered his pregnant wife and two kids to be with his mistress. It’s absolutely awful, but the home footage, text messages and police body cameras used throughout the film make it even more gripping.
The New York Times called it a “piercing examination of domestic violence constructed with care and undeniable craft,” which is probably the best way to put into words how masterfully made this doco is. It has to be one of the best documentaries on Netflix.
I just give it a 5 out of 5. No joke here.
History of Swear Words
This one’s more of a comedic documentary that still teaches you a pretty fun lesson, and best of all, it’s hosted by Nicolas Cage.
Really it does what it says on the tin, and explores the history of how the swear words we know and love today came to be, with episodes called “Pu**y” and “D**k”.
I give it 4 out of 5 fucks.
Pretty much everyone and their nonna watched Tiger King in 2020, but I’m sure somewhere out there are a few unfortunate souls who haven’t soaked up the batshit glory that is this documentary. There’s a reason it’s one of the best documentaries on Netflix, people!
Tiger King follows zoo owner Joe Exotic, and the eccentric characters in his life who witnessed a whole smorgasbord of antics and fuckery. The best part is, they’re just as unbelievably interesting themselves.
The doco leads up to Exotic’s eventual arrest for conspiring to murder his nemesis, Carole Baskin, who has a few skeletons in her closet as well. Honestly, it’s hands down one of the best documentaries on Netflix.
I give it 5 out of 5 tigers.
A whole team of trans stars look at the history of trans representation in the media, and discuss which movies and characters have either helped or hindered the popular understanding of transness.
It’s a really interesting look at the failings of Hollywood in properly representing queer people and their lives without relying on stereotypes and negative tropes.
Please watch this if you want to open your eyes and realise how many times you’ve had to watch poor representation in your films and television shows, I can guarantee you will have seen (and maybe even dearly love) most of the movies brought up in this doco.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 Hollywood signs.
Fans of music rejoice, one of the best ideas to ever come forward, Song Exploder, is now one of the best documentaries on Netflix, and it’s so fkn interesting.
Basically, a whole bunch of musicians talk about how they made the songs you know and love, and it’s a unique look at the work that goes behind the music.
There are episodes with Dula Peep, Alicia Keys, R.E.M. and The Killers, just to name a few, and the best part is you can just watch the eps with your favourite artists, no need to slog through anything you don’t enjoy.
I give it 4 out of 5 green iPod Nanos.