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 on May 3: 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.
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.
The Devil Next Door
The idea of a man escaping the heinous crimes he committed against a whole group of people is widely considered despicable. But what if the criminal was actually innocent?
There is perhaps no other better-known crime against humanity than the crimes committed during the Holocaust by Ivan the Terrible, a person who looked forward to hurting anyone his authority gave him power too.
The Devil Next Door, a must watch on Netflix, considers whether Ivan the Terrible is actually who the Nazi people have been convinced he is. In fact, The Devil Next Door lets the viewer debate the notion throughout the series.
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.
Possibly the most timely documentary of all the picks on this list is Ava Duvernay’s powerful exploration of the prison system and how it was built by the 13th Amendment as a tool for systemic racism.
The documentary deep dives into the historical implications of the amendment with rich articulation. Past presidents such as Bill Clinton and his policies during his eight years in office are part of the story.
Given the current political landscape, 13th is essential viewing for those seeking to expand their own ideas of how policies are able to influence racism.
As discussed in a previous list, Unsolved Mysteries is back — and the show is just as chilling as it was back in the 1990s.
The format has changed a bit. Instead of one episode covering numerous unsolved cases, the Netflix revamp focuses on one documented case per episode.
While the latest episodes tend to be absolutely gripping, Unsolved Mysteries will never be the same without legendary Robert Stack as host. Still, the new approach offers one thrilling experience after another.
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 Fear of 13
The Fear of 13 is not a conventional documentary.
Where most bring in numerous interviews and locations, The Fear of 13 focuses on one man as he recounts his decades of imprisonment.
The stories Nick Yarris tells are emotional, compelling and, by the end of the story, inspiring.
This is the perfect documentary to put on after rewatching The Shawshank Redemption. Just like that movie classic, the overall message from Yarris is one of hope.
Lately, it seems like the United States is ensconced in a neverending culture war, with all sides trying to understand the others. With that said, sometimes a documentary comes along and shows that struggle on a microscopic scale.
This is the case with American Factory.
The Academy Award-winning documentary tells the story of Fuyao, the Chinese company that takes its operations to an old General Motors plant. The result shows how middle America workers needed to come together with Chinese workers to prove their livelihoods are essential.
Between clashes, communication concerns, and cultural differences, American Factory takes a compelling look at how we ultimately all want the same things.
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.
Wild Wild Country
Wild Wild Country is one of the most unbelievable docuseries to ever hit Netflix.
This is mainly because the documentary tells the story of such an extraordinary event in history, one that is hard to believe ever happened. Once the program ends, viewers will be asking themselves, “Why have I never heard about this?”
The docuseries chronicles the story of a cult formed by the guru Osho who gained a massive following. In fact, many people became part of the cult that the group tried to form their own city/state. A major controversy ensued with the locals that surrounded their community.
It’s truly a wild, wild experience.
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.”