In a perfect world, everything you watch would teach you something. But that isn't always the case. Enter documentaries, known for their ability to enlighten, spark charge, and leave you feeling some kind of way. One of life's greatest treasures, Netflix, has enough of these kinds of flicks to entertain you for days on end. From an intimate look into former first lady Michelle Obama's life to the crazy story of how what was supposed to be the greatest party of all time never happened in Fyre, these 19 documentaries will keep the possibility of boredom non-existent. (Check out the best documentaries on Amazon Prime here, and on Hulu here.)
Partly based on Michelle Obama's powerful memoir of the same name, this doc follows the former first lady on her book tour and features intimate interviews about her life and the most important people in it.
'Athlete A' (2020)
This doc follows investigative journalists at the Indianapolis Star and their work breaking the story of doctor Larry Nassar's years-long history of assaulting young female gymnasts.
This Oscar-winning documentary chronicles filmmaker Bryan Fogel as he explored doping in amateur cycling—and ended up stumbling on a major international doping scandal.
In Voyeur, journalist Gay Talese investigates a certifiably creepy motel owner named Gerald Foos, who spies on his guests from a hidden platform in the motel's attic.
'Knock Down The House' (2019)
See the origin story of U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other amazing women during the 2018 midterm elections. You already know how it ends for most of the congressional contenders, but the stories of these grass-roots campaigns are all the more inspiring for it.
'The Great Hack' (2019)
This documentary sheds light on the complex scandal involving data company Cambridge Analytica and the role it place in the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
'A Secret Love' (2020)
This touching film tells the story of former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Terry Donahue and her lifelong partner, Pat Henschel, who kept their lesbian relationship a secret from their families for nearly seven decades.
'Audrie & Daisy' (2016)
This gripping and heartbreaking documentary tells the story of two young women, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, who were victims of sexual assault. The film explores and investigates toxic rape culture, aiming at spreading awareness through the girls’ raw stories and accounts.
'Miss Americana: Taylor Swift' (2020)
Swifties everywhere love this documentary for its ability to capture the artist they have admired for so many years. Newcomers will look at this documentary of Swift as a welcome into her private world she's been hiding for so long. Also, still looking into getting the same backpack she has for her cat, for my own fluffball.
'Abducted in Plain Sight' (2017)
A girl from an Idaho family was not abducted once, but twice from her psychotic next-door neighbor after a series of really odd and abnormal events. It's the weirdest true crime story you'll ever see and will have you second-guessing who you live next to, I guarantee it.
'Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened' (2019)
Back in 2017, your social media feeds were probably overrunning with mentions of Fyre Festival, a music event that was supposed to be the ultimate getaway. When festival-goers got to the island where the event was going to take place, they found out quickly nothing was what it seemed. Get ready to learn more about "the greatest party that never happened."
'Diana: In Her Own Words' (2017)
Ten years into her marriage to Prince Charles and five years from their eventual divorce, Princess Diana sat down with Dr. James Colthurst at Kensington Palace. These conversations would later help write Andrew Morton's 1992 biography Diana: Her True Story. The interviews can be heard for the first time here as they discuss everything from depression to Charles' involvement with Camilla Bowles.
'Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution' (2020)
In the 1970s, a group of disabled teenagers got together for a summer of fun at Camp Jened. It was known as a ramshackle camp "for the handicapped" in the Catskills. Friendships and bonds soon went beyond campgrounds as they found themselves leading a political movement to make sure there was accessibility for all.
'Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator' (2019)
You may or may not know about Bikram Choudhury, the creator behind Bikram Yoga, who rose to fame for his practice of hot yoga in the seventies. When people grow as fast as Choudhury did, theirs a pretty big fall waiting around a corner, and that's precisely what Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator documents here.
When you thought Beyoncé couldn’t surprise you anymore, she writes a documentary about herself. And directs it. And executive-produces it. You can’t physically attend concerts right now, but you can definitely watch them. Get ready to sing your lungs out streaming Queen B’s concert documentary about her performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—you won’t regret it.
'Period. End Of Sentence.' (2018)
If you’re a woman, being on your period isn’t just normal, it’s also natural. But for some cultures more than others, menstruation is taboo. In this short docu-film, a group of Indian women decide it’s time to fight the all-time stigma surrounding menstruation, and begin manufacturing sanitary pads.
'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson' (2017)
The transgender legend Marsha P. Johnson was found dead, floating on the Hudson river, in 1992. At the time, the case was closed and labeled as suicide, but for many people facts didn’t quite add up. In this film, filmmakers investigate her death, and try to get to the bottom of it.
'Hot Girls Wanted' (2015)
What was supposed to tell the story of porn watching on college campuses changed when filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus found out more men were watching porn with younger women than ever before. Produced by actress Rashida Jones, Hot Girls Wanted looks at five women between the ages of 18 and 25 as they step into the world of amateur porn in Florida.
In this essential film, director Ava DuVernay dives deep into the roots of racial inequality in the United States and how it developed through the years. Focusing on American prisons as a pillar example of racial disproportion, the documentary is a fierce call to action that can’t be missed.