Like most (all) of you, I love Netflix. I haven’t watched cable tv in a couple of years, and have never really missed it except when the presidential debates are on (I can’t help it). Netflix is especially good for social/cultural documentaries, and their original TV shows are great. Here are my favorites that I’ve discovered over the years!
P.S. Make my stovetop popcorn while you’re at it.
The Mind of a Chef: separated into seasons that feature different chefs, this is by far my #1 recommendation on Netflix. The chef’s prepare their popular recipes, discuss their food philosophy and their source of inspiration. You’ll probably want to become a chef too after watching it 🙂
Forks Over Knives: An eye-opener that will make you question everything you know about health, obesity, and the diseases that result from our poor eating choices. Could the cure to all of it be so simple as switching to a plant-based diet?
For Grace: This documentary follows Curtis Duffy through his incredibly troubled childhood to his life now as the chef of a 3 michelin star restaurant in Chicago. Incredibly inspiring, dark, and well-made!
Chef’s Table: Follow some of the best chefs in the world as they discuss their background, their cooking style, and their inspiration to innovate year after year. If you watch just one episode, watch Francis Mallman in Season 1. An Argentinian chef who cooks with fire in Patagonia, you will be completely and utterly mesmerized.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: A master chef who has devoted his life to sushi. It will make you crave his discipline. You have to work at his restaurant for 10 years before you’re allowed to make the rice.
Marcella: A detective in London with a mental illness walks a fine line between criminality and justice. Chilling and suspenseful, you won’t be able to stop watching.
House of Cards: Frank & Claire Underwood are the ultimate DC power couple. Watch as they navigate (and participate) the nasty world of politics. They will literally do anything to be on top.
Scandal: True to its name, this show is FULL of scandals. Olivia Pope manages her client’s scandals, but struggles with some (huge) ones of her own.
Homeland: I love political shows, and I always wonder how close to the truth they are. This show follows a CIA agent with a mental illness and a recently returned POW. It’s one of those shows where you can imagine a lot of the events happening in real life. The acting is incredible, and you’re never sure whose side the characters are on. Another binge-worthy favorite!
The Americans: My current favorite, The Americans follows two Russian spies during the cold war. They live a seemingly normal life in the USA as owners of a travel agency, with two kids. In their free time, they plot to take down the American government.
Downton Abbey: I didn’t expect to like this show, but 5 seasons later, I’m addicted. Set in the early 1900’s, a prominent British family experiences the ups and downs of family life, war, death, love, and gossip.
Billions: Having billions isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Wealth and corruption dominate this series, as a billionaire hedge-fund manager walks the fine line between jail and freedom.
Master of None: Watch this one for when you want to laugh 🙂 The ever hilarious Aziz Ansari takes you through life as a single actor in NYC, trying to navigate the dating and professional world.
Making a Murderer: This isn’t all about being guilty or innocent; it’s about the misconduct displayed by the government and police departments in this case. Filled with vindictive prosecutions, forced admissions of guilt, and corruption, this documentary shows how scary it can be to be poor with a criminal record in America.
Cowspiracy: Watch as facts are laid out about the impact of cattle on our environment, and the conspiracy to withhold the truth from the public. While I always take conspiracy focused documentaries with a grain of salt, it’s hard to ignore what happens here.
Living on One Dollar: For the Guatemalans reading, this one will hit home for you. Three college friends spend a summer in one of the poorest communities in Guatemala, living on just one dollar a day. The most amazing part of this is the generosity the Guatemalan people show to them, even sharing their food and their homes. It makes me proud to live here, but incredibly angry that people still have to live like that in a country that could do SO MUCH MORE.
SOMM: For the wine obsessed, watch as sommeliers study for the ultimate exam to become a Master Sommelier. The stakes are high, sleep is rare, and failing just isn’t an option.
Going Clear: For anyone who is fascinated by cults and how religion can draw you in and consume your life. Ex high-ranking Scientology members discuss the abuse, exploitation, and harassment they experienced, and why they stayed for so long. Incredibly interesting and even more chilling, this is a must watch.
Tig: A touching documentary featuring comedian Tig Notaro as she fights cancer and goes through the process of trying to conceive with her partner. Tears are guaranteed, with a lot of laughs too.
Blackfish: The story of Tillikum, the killer whale at Sea World that has killed several people over the years. Watch as this documentary discusses the human relationship with these incredible animals, and why we have no right to keep them captive. You’ll never support Sea World again.
Jesus Camp: You won’t believe your eyes. Follow kids as they attend “Kids on Fire”, an Evangelical summer camp, as they explore their relationship with God. A true (and supposedly unbiased) look at American Evangelicals, it delves into the politics of their religion and what they believe and why.
The Dhamma Brothers: Focusing on the part of the population that most of us pretend doesn’t exist, the Dhamma Brother’s tells the story of a prison in Alabama that introduced a meditation program to their prisoners. Spoiler: they become transformed. This is why we need rehabilitation programs in our prisons.
Ai WeiWei (Never Sorry): An up-close look at the life of a famous artist/activist in China, the camera follows him as he prepares art shows around the world, and his extremely rocky relationship with the Chinese government.
Share your favorites in the comment section!