The best documentaries on Netflix

Documentaries is an area where Netflix has really found its niche. It seems like ever month or so, Netflix has that new great doco that everyone is talking about and much of it has become real must-see viewing. While Netflix does produce a lot of documentary content, there are plenty of documentaries from other production companies too and covering a range of topics from crime to music and everything in between. Let’s take a look at some of the best documentaries available on Netflix in Australia.

What are the best documentaries on Netflix?

While everyone has different interests and tastes, below we’ve put together a selection of docos across a range of topics to get you started on your documentary-watching binge:

  • How to Become a Tyrant
  • History of Swear Words
  • The Social Dilemma
  • (Un)Well
  • High Score
  • Bobby Kennedy for President
  • The Last Dance
  • The Confession Killer
  • Who Killed Malcolm X?
  • Miss Americana: Taylor Swift
  • Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

How to Become a Tyrant

Ever wanted to become an all-powerful dictator and rule like some of history’s most infamous tyrants? This is the doco for you! Narrated by Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame, this six-part series (around 30 minutes each episode) covers all the tips and tricks that tyrants from around the world used on their rise to power. Each episode covers a different tyrant and the various tactics they used to gain power, seize control and rule with an iron fist. While the series takes a slightly light-hearted ‘instructional’ tone, it doesn’t shy away from telling the truths of some of history’s most evil leaders.

The History of Swear Words

This one might be a little left of field for some, and of course if you’re not a fan of more colourful language, you might want to give this one a skip. However, linguistic enthusiasts and anyone looking for a good laugh are set to enjoy this gem. Hosted by none other than Nicolas Cage (come on, who else could host a doco as ‘out there’ as this one), each of the six 20-minute episodes covers a different swear word, with commentary from comedians and experts alike. Although it’s marketed more as a comedy series than documentary, it provides a fascinating insight into some of the more controversial words in the English language.

The Social Dilemma

There’s no denying that social media is addictive and can cause damage to mental health, especially in kids and teens. While most of these platforms started off with good intentions, there is a dark side to many of the apps we use every day. This documentary drama features interviews from many of the people that built these platforms, discussing what worries them about the way social networking has changed over the years. While this doco does come off as a bit alarmist at times, ignoring many of the positives of social networking, it’s a fascinating look at how technology and human behaviour is intertwined — and it may make you want to delete your social media forever.

(Un)Well

The wellness industry is growing year by year, as the latest ‘wellness’ trends come and go, while others stick around for the long term. But what exactly is behind some of these ‘wellness’ trends and is there any actual scientific proof or medical benefit behind them? This six-part docuseries covers a different trend in each episode: essential oils, tantric sex, breast milk (consumption by adults for bodybuilding and other medical reasons), fasting, Ayahuasca and bee sting therapy. This series is a wild ride exploring those who feel they’ve benefitted from these trends, as well as the downsides, such as the ethics behind breast milk sharing, the cultural appropriation of Tantra, damaging Westernisation of Ayahuasca, whether fasting is more an eating disorder than ‘biohack’ and the multi-level marketing schemes that dominate the essential oil industry. It’s a fascinating dive into the weird and wacky world of the ‘wellness’ industry.

Sign up to Disney+

There are two plan options to choose from – a monthly subscription at $11.99 per month, or prepay for a year at $119.99 and save on the monthly cost. Both plans include the same features, with unlimited downloads and the ability to stream on up to four screens at the same time.

Brand Subscription Type No. of Screens/same time viewing Advertised Cost^^/month or year
Disney+ Logo

Disney+ Monthly Subscription

  • Stream the Disney+ library, including Disney+ Originals, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic & Star
  • Watch on 4 screens at the same time
  • Add up to 7 profiles
  • Unlimited downloads of shows and movies on up to 10 devices

min. cost $11.99 over one month

4No. of Screens /same time viewing $11.99
Advertised Cost/month
Get DealCanstar Blue receives a commission for sign-ups through Disney+ *
Disney+ Logo

Disney+ Yearly Subscription

  • Stream the Disney+ library, including Disney+ Originals, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic & Star
  • Watch on 4 screens at the same time
  • Add up to 7 profiles
  • Unlimited downloads of shows and movies on up to 10 devices
  • Prepay for a yearly subscription and save on the monthly cost

min. cost $119.99 over one year

4No. of Screens /same time viewing $119.99
Advertised Cost/year
Get DealCanstar Blue receives a commission for sign-ups through Disney+ *

High Score

A documentary about the history of video games might seem like a very niche subject, but you may be surprised. While gamers will find this an interesting and informative look into the world they know and love, for others, it’s a nice trip down memory lane on how gaming shaped our world both culturally and technologically. This docuseries covers the evolution of video games, from the early arcade game classics like Space Invaders and Pac Man, through to the evolution of video game consoles in the home and the growth of computer games at a time when a whole game was stored on a single floppy disc.

Bobby Kennedy For President

He may have been somewhat overshadowed by his brother John F. Kennedy, but Robert F. Kennedy — also known as Bobby — was just as much of a political force. He formed an integral part of his brother’s presidential campaign and served as Attorney General and New York senator. This four-part Netflix documentary series looks at the political life and evolution of Bobby Kennedy both pre and post his brother’s assassination, during the politically turbulent time of the 1960s and the civil rights movement. This doco series features interviews of many of Bobby’s friends and colleagues, along with archival footage, to tell a story of the man who for many disadvantaged Americans, was their chance at a better and brighter future.

The Last Dance

The Last Dance is a 10-part docu-series chronicling the Chicago Bulls, specifically the career of basketball legend Michael Jordan, during the 1997-1998 NBA season. The season, dubbed ‘the last dance’ by coach Phil Jackson was one of many lasts; Jordan’s last season with the team, Jackson’s last season as coach, the last year of Scottie Pippen’s contract, and the last time that the Chicago Bulls have won an NBA championship. All ten episodes are out on Netflix, so watch them one-by-one or attempt to binge them all in one sitting. Either way, it’ll have you wishing the iconic team was still together (and that you could hit the town with 90’s Dennis Rodman).

The Confession Killer

Ever heard of Henry Lee Lucas? He was once America’s most prolific serial killer, having confessed to hundreds and even thousands of murders across the entire country. There’s only one problem. For many of these confessions and cases, there was ample evidence that it was impossible for Henry to be the murderer especially when there was solid evidence he was somewhere else in the country at that time. So, why would he confess to crimes he didn’t commit?

The Confession Killer is a five-part docuseries about Henry Lee Lucas, his confessions, the cover-ups and the whole bizarre story from his initial arrest right through to the aftermath of his death. If you don’t know much or anything about Henry Lee Lucas, you’ll be glued to your screen as the whole story with its twists and turns unravels before you.

Sign up to BINGE

Want some more docos? Why not check out BINGE? Prices start at $10 per month for a basic package and go up to $18 per month. Check out the plan inclusions in the below table. This table includes links to a referral partner.

Brand Subscription Type No. of Screens/same time viewing Advertised Cost^^/month
Binge logo

BINGE Basic Plan

  • Stream over 10,000+ hours of shows and movies
  • Watch on 1 screens at the same time
  • 2 week free trial

min. cost $10 over one month

1No. of Screens /same time viewing $10
Advertised Cost/month
Go To Site
Binge logo

BINGE Standard Plan

  • Stream over 10,000+ hours of shows and movies
  • Watch on 2 screens at the same time
  • HD available
  • 2 week free trial

min. cost $14 over one month

2No. of Screens /same time viewing $14
Advertised Cost/month
Go To Site
Binge logo

BINGE Premium Plan

  • Stream over 10,000+ hours of shows and movies
  • Watch on 4 screens at the same time
  • HD available
  • 2 week free trial

min. cost $18 over one month

4No. of Screens /same time viewing $18
Advertised Cost/month
Go To Site

Who Killed Malcolm X?

He was one of the most well-known names of the civil rights movement in the USA during the 1960s until his assassination at an event in Manhattan. While three men were arrested and convicted of murder, there was much more to this case than meets the eye.

This six-part docuseries explores the murder of Malcolm X, which occurred less than a year after his departure from the African-American political and religious movement, the ‘Nation of Islam’, and delves into the possibilities and theories that there may have been a more to this case than meets the eye and even a big cover up. If you’ve got a particular interest in the Civil Rights Movement or modern American history, this doco is definitely one to add to your watch list.

Miss Americana: Taylor Swift

The documentary as controversial as the subject matter, Miss Americana is Taylor Swift’s story as told by Taylor Swift and directed by Lana Wilson. It follows the life of Taylor Swift over the course of several years with footage from interviews, flashbacks, studio footage, concert footage, home movies and more. This doco covers some of the most pivotal moments in Swift’s career, including the making of the Reputation and Lover albums, battles with an eating disorder, issues with the media, other personal struggles and her very public sexual assault trial.

Whether you love or hate Tay Tay, there’s no denying she’s one of the biggest and most influential female musicians over the past 10 or so years. There have been plenty of ups and downs and this critically-acclaimed documentary explores it all. While it’s been criticised by some as a very cleverly veiled attempt at ‘brand management’, it’s still her story in her words and makes for some compelling viewing.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

While the release of this documentary series is eerily timed amidst the global coronavirus outbreak, Pandemic is a six-part series taking a look at what it takes to battle a viral outbreak. You’ll see what health care workers around the world are up against when it comes to stopping the spread of illnesses such as influenza, including the rise in misinformation and funding cuts. If you’re curious about what its actually like to battle a pandemic, this docuseries could be the perfect viewing while you’re quarantined. If you’re prone to panic, you might want to give this one a miss.

Conversations with a killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

One of the most recognisable serial killers in the world, Ted Bundy was one of the most intriguing murderers in US history. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes was one of the most-talked about documentaries when it was first released on Netflix. While this is a chilling documentary to watch, it’s a fascinating look at this notorious killer who used his charm and good looks to convince many people (sadly, to their detriment) that he was a nice and harmless guy. If you’re not too familiar with the whole circus that revolved around Ted Bundy, the televised trial and eventual confessions, this four-part documentary series gives some interesting insight into one of the worst serial killers in the past 50 years.

If you’re looking for some more Netflix content, check out our guides on the best shows and the best movies, or if you’re looking to keep on the doco-bandwagon, why not check out the best sports documentaries on Kayo?

Share this article

[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]