The 7 best documentaries you have to watch on Netflix

We all love to binge-watch Netflix shows, but what if you could also learn something about the world around you whilst killing time? That’s what documentaries are for! The perfect way to say you’ve done something educational and enriching whilst munching on chocolate or crisps on the sofa.

The next challenge to overcome is what documentaries to watch on Netflix, after all, there are an awful lot of them. If you’re not logged into American Netflix – where there will be even more choice – these are the best documentaries you can watch on Netflix right now.

The best documentaries on Netflix:

1. Requiem for the American Dream

Politically charged and more pertinent than ever, Noam Chomsky takes part in a series of interviews shot over the course of four years. As time shifts we see and hear Chomsky’s thoughts on the concentration of wealth and power in the US.

If it weren’t for a small elite holding this power and wealth, the US could be a far more prosperous country. Instead, society is splitting and the middle class is declining. The always captivating Chomsky provides an exceptional case for how everything went wrong.

2. Making a Murderer

Following the story of Steven Avery, a man from Manitowoc County, Wisconsin who was wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen. After being exonerated, Avery takes out a lawsuit against the county police force for misconduct and his hardships, but when the body of Teresa Halbach turns up in his car lot Avery’s thrown back into it all as the cops go after Avery with a vengeance.

While its portrayal of actual events has been accused of being largely one-sided, this Netflix Original documentary is a fantastic look into the crooked legal system and corrupt police forces that populate parts of the United States. The series has since gone on to spur petitions and campaigns to free Avery.

3. Cooked

Love food? Then you’ll love Cooked, the documentary series from food critic Michael Pollan as he travels the world exploring how cooking transforms food, brings people together and shapes our world.

Highly acclaimed, this Netflix original is all about giving you an understanding of just how important it is to have a connection to the food we cook and eat. It’s also really short, with just four episodes, so you shouldn’t get too hungry watching it in one big go.

4. Wonders of the Solar System

Presented by physicist Professor Brian Cox and his rather dazed voice, Wonders of the Solar System travels through our solar system looking at what makes it such a fascinating place to be.

As one of the most successful shows to appear on BBC Two in recent years, now this five-part documentary series is on Netflix it’s an absolute must-watch for any stargazers out there.

5. Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends

Anyone who loves documentaries knows just how influential Louis Theroux and his probing personal documentaries are. His Weird Weekends series takes this to its height by providing brief glimpses into the worlds of individuals and groups that largely keep their private lives hidden from the spotlight.

Split across three series, Louis meets UFO fanatics, swingers and pornstars. As always, he thrusts himself into awkward situations, but no episode has a dull moment.

6. Planet Earth

Nothing is more fascinating that getting a glimpse at the incredible – and largely unseen – aspects of our own world. That’s where the David Attenborough-narrated documentary series Planet Earth comes in. As nature documentaries go, this is the crème de la crème.

7. The Internet’s Own Boy

As biopics go, The Internet’s Own Boy is an indie hit that will largely go completely under your radar, but it’s definitely worth watching.

The Internet’s Own Boy follows the life of computer programmer Aaron Swartz as he helped create Reddit, RSS, Markdown and Creative Commons. It also charts the mental stresses and strains on Swartz as the FBI try everything they can to halt his efforts of building an open internet.

In January 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn home whilst under house arrest. This is the true story of how it all happened.

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