From time to time, the lives some people have lived fascinate like no other stories.
The Netflix platform takes full advantage of this phenomenon with several captivating documentaries and docuseries.
From the criminal justice system and all its flaws to comments on social issues of the day, Netflix has something to say about all of it.
That said, for anyone who wants to see life from another person’s perspective, a Netflix documentary is a perfect way to do just that.
The great thing about all the documentaries on Netflix is that there is something for everyone. The difficult thing about all the documentaries on Netflix is that there are so many options.
Monsters & Critics have come up with the following list for viewers who don’t know where to start.
Here are the 15 best documentaries to stream on Netflix right now.
Updated in January 2022: Every month, Netflix removes several movies and TV shows from the streaming service. As a result, we will come in each month and make changes. We will remove those documentaries that are no longer on the service and replace them with more current additions.
We will also keep our eye out for new releases that might surpass those on the list. Bookmark this page for the newest releases.
Betty White: First Lady of Television
Betty White passed away on New Year’s Eve 2021, just weeks away from her 100th birthday.
Fans who want to look back on her television career, have a great place to start with a documentary on Netflix titled, Betty White: First Lady of Television.
The documentary traces her career on television, including behind the scenes clips and comments from her friends and co-stars throughout the years.
A Cop Movie
A Cop Movie is an insightful deconstruction of the Mexican police force, told through the stories of two officers.
This takes an interesting tact, being part documentary, while also telling a narrative story along the way.
Director Alonso Ruizpalacios shows the world of the Mexican police force through the story of Teresa and Montoya, a police couple called “the love patrol.”
They had big dreams to be police officers, but those dreams were crushed by the system and this intercuts their lives as a couple to their jobs on the force.
Britney vs. Spears
Britney vs. Spears just hit Netflix and tells the story of Britney Spears’s battle to end her conservatorship that her father controlled.
This was made before the courts chose to suspend her father’s role as her conservator. For those who haven’t been following the news story, this documentary catches people up with what has happened and why it went to the courts.
What makes this documentary memorable is that it shows how a celebrity can end up surrounded by people who might not have that person’s best interests in mind.
The Social Dilemma
Released in 2020, The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary that dives deep into how social media turns into an addiction.
The investigative documentary shows how it can manipulate people’s views, emotions, and behavior, while also spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories.
The Netflix documentary also looks at social media’s effects on mental health and connects it to rising teen suicide rates.
Interviewing several people who worked for social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, the documentary focuses on the damage that social media has caused society.
The Last Blockbuster
The Last Blockbuster was a 2020 documentary that features the last remaining Blockbuster Video store in Bend, Oregon.
The documentary also traces the rise and fall of Blockbuster Video, from a video renting powerhouse to an afterthought in the era of Netflix and streaming television services.
There are also some big names interviewed in the documentary, including Kevin Smith, who worked in a video rental store when he was working on creating his first movie, Clerks.
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed
A new documentary is arriving in August about the legendary painter whose face graced TV screens for years — Bob Ross.
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed is a story about his life and legacy, including his belief there are no mistakes, only happy accidents that brought joy to people’s lives.
However, there was also a shady story about the people he trusted to build his empire, and who slowly betrayed him over his life and even after his death.
This Is a Robbery
This Is a Robbery is a new Netflix documentary series that is not what most viewers would expect.
This is about the “biggest art heist in the world” but it isn’t about a giant heist you might see in the movies. Instead, this four-episode docuseries tells a very different story.
This is a re-telling of the Isabella Stewart Gardner robbery in which two men dressed as police officers lifted 13 works of art on March 18, 1990.
For 81 minutes, motion sensors tracked them as they took paintings off of walls and cut them out of their frames.
Murder Among The Mormons
In the early ’80s, the Mormon church found itself rocked with some serious scandals that questioned its legitimacy.
This scandal was based on documents unsurfaced and provided to the LDS Church. However, these items turned out to be forgeries, faked by one man to get rich by selling the secrets to the church.
When he found himself on the verge of getting caught, he murdered two men with bombs before a third bomb accidentally exploded in his own car.
Murder Among Mormons tells the story of Mark Hoffman, the man who almost brought down the entire Mormon church before he almost blew himself up and ended up in prison for his actions.
Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
In 2019, the country found itself enraptured by a scandal where rich and powerful families paid off universities to allow their children to receive admission ahead of more deserving candidates.
When two of Hollywood’s beloved stars — Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — turned out to be part of the scandal, it captured the entire world’s attention.
Operation Varsity Blues tells the story of how this happened and puts all the pieces together to the tune of $25 million paid over seven years by 33 parents.
Immigration Nation is a new Netflix documentary that brings the plight of illegal aliens to the forefront.
What makes this documentary so interesting is that law enforcement officials are allowed to be themselves, which is not a good thing. These officers insult the immigrants and also call those who never broke the law as “collateral damage.”
The documentary also looks at the danger in the countries these immigrants come from, them trying to escape and get to a safe place to live.
There are even people who fought for the U.S. in the military who are kicked out of the country. This is a polarizing documentary that is one of the hot spots in today’s society.
Don’t F**k with Cats
Trigger warning. Fans of true crime know that there are certain “tells” that prove someone could be a serial killer. The Netflix original “Don’t F**k With Cats” is a wild realization of this phenomenon.
Any viewers who love animals may have a difficult time viewing this show.
That said, a young man filming himself torturing and murdering cats convicts himself of a much deeper crime: the murder of another human after internet warriors help track him down.
Don’t F**k With Cats is proof that online investigators can sometimes make a difference simply by getting behind the keyboard.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Some may find it odd that society is obsessed with serial killers and utterly fascinated with sociopaths.
No such person has been quite so fascinating as Ted Bundy.
The series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes takes a look at the extended interviews he had while in prison.
The creepiest aspect of this Netflix offering is his charming nature. The Netflix docuseries does justice to just how charismatic this evil man truly was.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
This pick isn’t for the faint of heart.
Just like Abducted in Plain Sight, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez will make viewers ready to throw something at their television.
The reason? Mainly because hearing about a child being ruthlessly abused to the point of murder is harrowing. And, to make matters worse, the documentary lays out all the things that could have prevented the event from ever happening.
The series is tough but it’s a much-needed reminder of how our systems can be broken under the wrong leadership — and how children can suffer because of it.
Home Game is a rather interesting pick because it dives into the world of sports. Specifically, sporting events that are rather unique or strange in nature.
As stated in our review, some are not as obscure such as the Highland Games. But others are extremely fascinating.
For example, one such game follows similar rules to football but on horses and the ball is a dead goat. Yes, a dead goat.
As far as docuseries are concerned, Home Game is a worthwhile series that expands the worldview outside of our own.
Making A Murderer
There are few documentaries more compelling than Netflix’s Making A Murder. It is mind-boggling to think the American justice system could let down its people so easily yet such a sincere possibility.
Even more terrifying is the thought that since we the people could all be put on jury duty, all viewers of the popular show could just as easily convict an innocent man of a heinous crime.
Making A Murder is a must-watch for anyone interested in the flaws of a justice system that claims to believe suspects are “innocent until proven guilty.”