Down the Rabbit Hole: Top Netflix Original Documentaries

Down the Rabbit Hole: Top Netflix Original Documentaries
Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Back in 1997, Netflix was launched as a new take on video rentals. What began as a mail-in concept turned into one of the most revolutionary aspects of digital entertainment: video streaming. Soon, Netflix’s platform had edged out the competition—even longstanding cable companies.

Today, Netflix’s pioneering spirit continues. The video streaming platform hasn’t been content to continue hosting various TV shows, movies, and documentaries. Instead, Netflix has started producing some of its most successful titles. 

While series like Bridgerton and Stranger Things have broken the mold, Netflix’s documentaries have also become smashing successes. The streaming giant has found a market with sports and investigative projects, in particular. These have proven popular because they offer a detailed look into riveting subjects. 

For example, the subject of poker has seen multiple deep dives from documentary filmmakers, who cover topics like strategy, history, and lifestyle behind the nuanced game. Some of the top titles are available now on Amazon Prime and YouTube, which are both known for offering grassroots documentaries.

Netflix took a different route in 2017 with their Win It All.  The project was produced by the streaming service, then promoted on its own platform. While not every project has been a hit, Netflix’s production quality has steadily improved over time. Here are a few of the top documentaries created and developed by the streaming service.

Amanda Knox (2016)

The exploration of American Amanda Knox’s conviction and imprisonment in Italy was one of Netflix’s first forays into investigative documentaries. The project explores the story of Knox, who was accused of killing her roommate while attending school in Italy.

Knox herself speaks in front of the camera as filmmakers explore the facts of the case, which also implicates a young Italian man. The film was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for its novel retelling of the bare facts.

Fyre (2019)

One of the biggest stories in US pop culture in 2017 was the total failure of a music festival set to be hosted in the Bahamas. The festival had huge names behind it, from Kendall Jenner to Ja Rule, but then fell apart into a survival situation as the festival was set to begin.

Netflix took a strange approach to the documentary, which was in part produced by the company responsible for Fyre Festival’s failure: Jerry Media. The project started production only months after the scandal.

Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

 

Schumacher (2021)

Netflix has done wonders for the sport of Formula One with its Drive to Survive series, which covers the drama behind the scenes of the world’s most elite racing league. Schumacher is an ode to one of the sport’s greatest drivers, Michael Schumacher. 

The documentary explores the life and achievements of Schumacher, one of the greatest drivers to work with Scuderia Ferrari. The film honors the driver, who disappeared from public view after an untimely accident in 2013. The documentary is one of the first peeks into Schumacher’s life since then.

Jeen-Yuhs (2022)

Since its release earlier this year, this no-holds-bar view into the early life and career of Kanye West has become a hot topic in pop culture. The documentary is structured around home footage captured by West’s closest friends during his rise to fame in the early 2000s. 

The home footage speaks for itself, providing insight into West’s motivations, family life, and dreams in the music world. While there are large time gaps, the film covers some of his biggest moments, including his failed 2020 presidential campaign.

The Tinder Swindler (2022)

This investigative project breaks down the process of one Israeli conman, Simon Leviev. Through interviews with Leviev’s victims, filmmakers put together multiple stories of manipulation and betrayal which ultimately end with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. 

The documentary touches on two aspects that many can relate to: the search for love and the proliferation of dating apps. The film covers the riveting stories of Leviev and those he betrayed, paying special attention to how far many people would go for love.

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