There are very few people who could be confronted with the situations that Louis Theroux finds himself in and not have an immediate desire to recoil and leave or simply start throwing punches. For 20 years, Louis has maintained his approachable, non-abrasive persona while staring directly down the barrel of racism, homophobia, paedophilia and a slew of heavily contentious topics and beliefs.
Louis’ likeability has gained him access to otherwise strongly guarded establishments and households with varying degrees of success. The British filmmaker occasionally shoots himself in the foot by interviewing people who are so fucking delusional, trying to get a logical answer from them is the equivalent of asking a turtle for its thoughts on global warming.
Actually, the turtle seems like an ideal interviewee in comparison to some.
We sifted through the entire back-catalogue of Louis’ documentaries and found some of our all-time faves in the process. If you’re new to the Louis Theroux bandwagon, best take a squiz at these docos to get a good gauge of what you’re in for.
My Scientology Movie
Released with perhaps the most fan-fare out of all of Louis’ ventures (he even toured Australia to promote it), My Scientology Movie achieved what it intended to. It didn’t provide a lot of new perspective on the wack-a-doodle cult that is Scientology or any juicy peeks inside the fucked up church itself, but it did lend a fresh new take on a well-covered topic.
Most of the doco revolves around a recreation of the messed up goings-ons that (allegedly) occur inside the church, with the intended goal to provoke and prod Scientologist members to come out of their rocks in order to hurl their own, smaller rocks at Louis.
Highlights: Louis and his crew in some weird-ass Mexican stand-off with the Scientologist members, as everyone films each other in a tense battle of “who can annoy who with their camera the most”.
Lowlights: Realising after watching the documentary that our beloved Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid’s Tale) is part of this depressingly illogical church.
TL;DR: Louis chases Scientologists around with cameras while they chase him around with cameras until they all get tired and take a nap.
Return Of The Most Hated Family In America
Everyone claims that sequels are rarely as good as the original, but this one’s a real kicker. Following up on his original doc, The Most Hated Family In Australia, Louis reunites (for lack of a better word, it was hardly a welcomed reunion) with folks of the Westboro Baptist Church.
In Part One of this two-parter, Louis ventures into the belly of this church where their main motivation for existing is to protest on the side of the streets, with warm and sincere signs such as “God Hates Fags” and the disappointingly vague “You’re Going To Hell” (who’s going to hell exactly? Am I going to hell? I need answers), all the while spewing irrational and unwarranted hate. To put it kindly.
The reason that Part Two is so delicious is that Louis’ trip back to the Church of Hate-Filled Assholes highlights just how many of its members jumped ship. Apparently, even the Westboro Baptist Church is too hateful for the Westboro Baptist Church.
Highlights: Seeing the meagre number of people who are left clinging to their misinformed beliefs.
Lowlights: Louis talking with kids from the Westboro Baptist Church who are speaking eloquently about their backwards beliefs.
TL;DR: Louis visits his ol’ m8s at the Westboro Baptist Church to double check that they’re still terrible people.
Louis And The Nazis
Louis heads down to sunny California to meet a run-of-the-mill, hard-working family of Nazis. You know, just like all of those American sitcoms about families that we’ve come to love, except that this family hates minorities and don’t ever deserve a prime-time slot on cable television.
This is one of Louis’ more infuriatingly interesting docos, simply because he approaches the family with calm rationale, only for the documentary to finish with an argument between Louis and the Nazi mum caused by her inability to listen to reason. As I said, it’s infuriating. Here’s a little taste of the mum’s way of thinking:
“Well, see, but I believe that we’re normal and that we’re correct and that other people are distorted. So, yes, I understand that I’m raising my children in a perverted world, in a perverted multiculturalist world.”
That’s one of the tamer quotes flying about during this documentary, too.
Highlights: The kids who were forced into the family’s Nazi band ended up renouncing their Nazi ways in 2011.
Lowlights: Louis being pressured to disclose whether he’s Jewish or not to an agitated Nazi.
TL;DR: Louis refrains from smacking a bunch of racists upside the head for being so incredibly backward.
Louis Theroux: Transgender Kids
Louis spends three months in San Francisco and surrounding areas with transgender children and their families. While this doco does focus heavily on the kids themselves, it also deals with the strong, supportive parents who are trying their best but clearly still struggling.
A few of the parents vent to Louis and explain that while they’re completely on board with the transition, there was somewhat of a grieving process as it felt like, in some ways, they were losing one child (while gaining another). Heavy stuff.
The kids themselves seem more than content with where they’re at, which makes the entire topic of whether parents should allow their kids to transition at such early ages (which is still heavily debated) a clearer one.
Highlights: Louis talking to the kids who appear so carefree and happy with who they are as a person.
Lowlights: Parents’ expressing their genuine worry and concern for how their kids will be treated when they grow up. Heartbreaking.
TL;DR – Louis examines the incredibly difficult journey for both transgender kids and their families.
Of course, these are only a small handful out of the 26 Louis Theroux documentaries that are currently being streamed on Stan, but they’re a good place to start.