We love our documentaries here at Average Joes, and with streaming services offering more than ever, we thought we’d put together some of the best documentaries around on Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube for our UK Joes. By now you should know about modern classics like Making a Murderer, so we’ve tried to keep things as recent as possible!
The Staircase (Netflix)
The one that’s been dubbed ‘the next Making a Murderer’, The Staircase is all anybody is talking about. In 2001, Michael Peterson claimed his wife has died after falling down stairs but the medical examiner was not convinced. This documentary follows the investigation, beginning in 2005 through to 2018, with trial footage and interviews with the accused. You may have already seen half of the new Netflix series as it was originally broadcast on the BBC back in 2004 as ‘Death on a Staircase’. But Netflix picked up the original series and added to it with 5 new episodes of the shocking true story. When you’ve finished watching it, read up on ‘The Owl Theory’…
Wild Wild Country (Netflix)
If you’ve got any remote interest in cults, utopian dreams, political struggles (both internal and external), or charismatic leaders, then Wild Wild Country will be right up your street. The slick six-part Netflix series tells the story of Indian religious leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who brought his red-robed followers to a small town in rural Oregon and took over, building a self-sustaining city based on ‘love and sharing’. Naturally, the conservative local community weren’t too happy about it. Through talking heads interviews and hours of archive footage, Wild Wild Country is story that needs to be seen to be believed.
HyperNormalisation (BBC iPlayer)
Made by legendary documentarian Adam Curtis, HyperNormalisation is like nothing you’ll ever see. Exploring how the uncertain world we live in has come to pass, Curtis draws parallels from the finals years of Soviet Russia, to describe and explain the rise of Donald Trump and populism. It’s a slog of a watch and it’s most certainly unsettling, but we’d wager your world will make more sense after HyperNormalisation – and it’s scarier than you can imagine.
Evil Genius (Netflix)
Back in August 2003, a pizza delivery man robbed a bank in Pennsylvania with a bomb strapped to his neck and ends up… actually maybe you should just watch. The story of the ‘pizza bomber heist’ is truly stranger than fiction, with Evil Genius recounting this tale of greed, madness, and ultimately, murder.
Copa90: England & The Media (YouTube)
With the World Cup just around the corner, there’s some excellent features on the England national team around at the moment. And the best piece we’ve seen is from Copa90 as they look at the love/hate relationship the English media have for our Three Lions. Through interviews with fans, journalists and players like Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and Dele Alli, Copa90 investigate the relationship between the players and the media, and to see how it affects the results on the pitch. A superb watch for any football fan.
Get Me Roger Stone (Netflix)
While HyperNormalisation is essential viewing if you want to understand the climate surrounding Trump’s unimaginable rise to prominence, Get Me Roger Stone is essential if you want to understand the mechanics of it. Roger Stone is a Republican political strategist and lobbyist who has had his fingerprints on some of American’s most infamous administrations. The controversial figure is not adverse to scandal and the documentary portrays Stone as the man heavily responsible for creating Trump as a political figure in a story that’s both thrilling and troubling.
Free to Play (YouTube)
One for the gamers out there, Valve Software’s Free to Play tells the story of professional gamers competing at the very first Dota 2 International tournament, at the time the most lucrative eSports tournament ever played. While it’s about gaming, this doc is for everyone – and you certainly don’t need to know a jot about Dota 2. Quite simply, it’s a brilliant watch and it’s also absolutely free on YouTube.
The Defiant Ones (Netflix)
The history of hip-hop is long and winding, but if you ever wanted to get to grips with it, Dr Dre is a great place to start. Netflix’s The Defiant Ones looks at the rise of Dre, as well as his Beats partner Jimmy Iovine, who became pals with Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon virtually by accident. The HBO series is insightful, brilliantly edited, and has contributions from music’s biggest names.
Ugly Delicious (Netflix)
If Chef’s Table is a little too high brow for your palette, Ugly Delicious is the Sex Pistols to Chef’s Table’s Coldplay. Award-winning chef David Chang and food writer Peter Meehan, travel the globe looking a different type of food every episode, looking at its history and what makes it so damn tasty. We’re talking pizza, tacos, fried chicken, BBQ etc. The only bit of advice we’d give is to make sure you don’t watch this on an empty stomach!
If you need some more documentary inspiration, here’s what we think are 10 of the best sports documentaries ever made!