Top 10 Netflix Original Docuseries
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Netflix Original Docuseries.
For this list, we’re looking at the best Netflix original documentary series, excluding documentary films, which is a whole other list.
What Netflix original docuseries would YOU most recommend? Give us your recommendations in the comments!
#10: “The Toys That Made Us” (2017-)
This Netflix original seeks to examine the origins of history’s hottest toy lines, from G.I. Joe and He-Man to Barbie and LEGO. Creator Brian Volk-Weiss, who’s produced a ton of original content for Netflix over the years, says his inspiration for making the series came from a lifelong interest in toys and history. He found it odd that there was little to no information on the history of some of the world’s most important toy lines and set out to create a show that would detail the rise of everything from Star Wars figurines to Power Rangers action figures. The series would also lead to the spin-off “The Movies That Made Us”. If you’re a nostalgia junkie, both are must-watches!
#9: “Wormwood” (2017)
Leave it to Academy Award winning documentarian Errol Morris to produce one of Netflix’s most impressive original series. “Wormwood” alternates between talking heads and cinematic recreations to tell the story of biological warfare scientist Frank Olson, who committed suicide in 1953 by jumping out the window of his New York City hotel room…or did he? This is the question that drives the series forward, as Olson’s son Eric embarks on a quest to discover the true nature of his father’s death. Was it really suicide? Or was Olsen murder by the CIA? You’ll have to watch to find out! Either way you’ll be treated to one of the best documentary series that Netflix has to offer.
#8: “Cheer” (2020)
You might already be interested in competitive cheerleading, you might not. It doesn’t matter, because “Cheer” is going to have you glued to the screen regardless. Following the Navarro College Bulldog’s Cheer Team, the series focuses on the dedication of its stars in the lead up to the National Cheerleading Championship. Their sheer determination carries the show, as they face and overcome one obstacle after another in pursuit of their passion. Inspirational and uplifting, this is a series that will have you rooting - and dare we say “cheering - right up until the final credits roll.
#7: “Don't F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” (2019)
The internet can be a dark place … but there are good Samaritans out there too. This true crime docuseries chronicles the efforts of amateur online sleuths to hunt down Canadian Luka Magnotta, who in 2010 posted graphic videos of animal cruelty. Magnotta was eventually apprehended in 2012, but only after committing a crime even more heinous. It’s a warped and disturbing trip into the darkest depths of the internet, and isn’t for everyone. But for those willing to watch it, it’s an intriguing true crime mystery amd satisfying takedown of a psychopath.
#6: “Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist” (2018)
This bizarre true crime docu-series is the kind of show you can binge watch in a day. It seeks to unravel the inexplicable true story of pizza deliveryman Brian Wells, who in 2003 robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his neck. He was later killed when it exploded during a standoff with police. Hooked yet? The show’s slow reveal is what makes it great, tantalizing viewers with a slew of equally plausible theories. At the heart of it all is a woman with a dark past, and a conspiracy so strange you have to see it to believe it!
#5: “Our Planet” (2019)
When “Planet Earth” came out in 2006, it was a revelation, with unprecedented footage that knocked audiences’ socks off. Then came “Planet Earth II”, “Frozen Planet”, and “Blue Planet II”, each pushing the boundaries of what was possible in nature documentaries. Given this track record, it’s no surprise that “Our Planet” is a must-watch. With British producer Alastair Fothergill at the helm again, and living legend David Attenborough handling narration, you’re in good hands. “Our Planet” explores nature’s mind-blowing diversity, but also the devastating impact that humans are having on the environment. So prepare to marvel at nature’s beauty … but also to be staggered at how precarious it all is.
#4: “Chef's Table” (2015-)
Netflix has no shortage of shows aimed at food lovers, but “Chef’s Table” is a cut above the rest. Each episode focuses on a different world-renowned chef, inviting viewers into their kitchens to discover what it takes to be considered a culinary master. Featuring a slew of enigmatic and talented chefs whose creations will have your mouth watering and your stomach rumbling, “Chef’s Table” is a must-watch for food lovers. And if you’re still feeling peckish after the show’s four seasons, check out the producers’ follow-up show,“Street Food”. Oh, AND take in “Ugly Delicious”, which explores the history of a slew of tasty dishes around the world.
#3: “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” (2020)
Strap yourself in folks, because we are going for a RIDE. “Tiger King” is one of those docuseries where the subjects just seem too crazy to exist in real life. Following larger-than-life zookeeper Joe Exotic, the show explores allegations that he abuses animals, and his feud with rival Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue. Things ramp up when Exotic accuses Baskin of killing her missing husband … and that’s actually FAR from the most insane thing that happens in the series. As the title suggests, it really is complete “madness”, something you have to see to believe it.
#2: “Wild, Wild Country” (2018)
You gotta see this docu-series to believe it. “Wild, Wild Country” tells the extraordinary true story of Rajneeshpuram, an international community formed in Oregon in the 1980s that served as the home of Rajneeshees, followers of controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Featuring a never-ending series of unbelievable twists and shocking turns, “Wild, Wild Country” can at times feels like a work of fiction; a story so bizarre it simply can’t be true. However, the story behind it all is ripe with emotion and intelligence, drawing viewers in and refusing to let go. Warning: once you hit play you won’t be able to unglue your eyes from the screen.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
“Song Exploder” (2020)
Based on a Podcast, This Insightful Show Explores the Creative Process Behind Great Music
“The Confession Tapes” (2017)
Shines a Spotlight on the Role False Confessions Play in the Justice System
“Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak” (2020)
Enlightening & Arriving with Uncanny Timing
“Immigration Nation” (2020)
An Eye-Opening Behind the Scenes Look at ICE
“Fear City: New York vs The Mafia” (2020)
A Riveting True Crime Series About How the FBI Took on the Mob
#1: “Making a Murderer” (2015-18)
Arguably the most famous docu-series of all time, “Making a Murdering” transcended genre to become a cultural phenomenon. The series tells the story of Steven Avery, a man who served 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit only to be found guilty of murder four years after being released…but did he do it? The show’s first season took home four Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and was praised by critics and fans alike. “Making a Murderer” has enough drama to keep believers and skeptics entertained, as creators Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos spin an intriguing tale of corruption, murder and tragedy.