Probably 90% of my downtime (to be clear — not much downtime as a working mom, but you get it) was spent binging on television or Netflix. Ozark came back, I got into Yellowjackets (so many questions!), and of course all the Real Housewives of all the cities, plus Summer House. I’ve been busy!
But this month, I want to try something new. Just like it’s important to keep a mix of fiction and non-fiction in your reading rotation, I wanted to try carrying that over to my TV consumption. So, I spent some time digging through Netflix’s huge library of docs (true crime counts, duh.) to learn and think while vegging out.
I’ve done my research, and here are the ones at the top of my list to suggest for you this spring. Word on the street is that you won’t be able to stop thinking about them once you watch.
Who knew that doctors could be so cool? You know, not in Grey’s Anatomy, but in real life? Lenox Hill follows four doctors at the renowned New York City hospital — two neurosurgeons, an ER doctor, and an OB-GYN — giving viewers an inside look at modern medicine. We see intimately how the doctors manage their wide range of patients and how they juggle that responsibility with that of their personal and professional lives. The original 8-part series was shot before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the cameras returned to film a special one-off episode that shows the hospital operating as ground zero in the early, chaotic days of the pandemic. Lenox Hill will make you appreciate the brilliance, unselfishness, and humanity of the doctors it portrays while also making you fall in love with them as people.
Something about a cold case or unexplained phenomena grips us unlike anything else. Unsolved Mysteries ran for over 500 episodes beginning in the 1980s, but Netflix rebooted the show in 2020 and now has two seasons’ worth of new, confounding cases that will get stuck in your head. Whether it’s the case of a woman gone missing within a minuscule 13-minute window or one night in 1969 when multiple people in a Massachusetts town saw a UFO, Unsolved Mysteries is sure to get you hooked.
The Tinder Swindler
Dating has always been hard, and while dating apps and platforms promise to make it easier, there are plenty of cons to go with the pros. And after watching The Tinder Swindler, you can’t fault anyone for wanting to try the in-person-only mode again. This riveting doc takes us through the story of a con artist who used Tinder to pose as a billionaire heir. The propulsive, thriller-like aspect of the film caused one critic to refer to The Tinder Swindler as “the Jaws of internet dating documentaries”.
Britney vs. Spears
The #FreeBritney saga has appeared to come to a conclusion, but the story of how the pop star got here is still equal parts fascinating, maddening, and suspenseful. Britney vs. Spears is Netflix’s foray into investigating the story behind Britney and her conservatorship, leaning on a few conversations with former boyfriends, attorneys, and others close to the conservatorship and how it operated. Britney vs. Spears has an extra bit of juice as well — the film works closely with journalist Jenny Eliscu who has her own messy personal and professional history with Britney and her saga.
Many have used at-home DNA kits to learn more about our genealogy and family roots. But most of us haven’t had that experience turn into something profound and life-changing. Found follows three teen girls from China adopted by American families who find out that they are blood cousins, agree to meet each other, and then go on a journey to China together to piece together their pasts and try to find their birth families. The doc is an emotional, intimate portrait of identity, family, and what makes us who we are.
After a pharmacist undergoes the terrible tragedy of losing his son, he takes matters into his own hands by investigating what’s behind the opioid crisis affecting so many people across the country. The Pharmacist follows the father as he unearths piece after piece of evidence that his son’s death — and so many others — was preventable.
QB1: The Lights
Ok, hear me out. You don’t need to be a huge sports fan to get wrapped up in this doc series that follows three high school football quarterbacks in their final year. The real-life drama of friendships, family, football, and their futures mimics the best of Friday Night Lights. You’ll become a fan of each character as you get to know them and follow their journey to the big time.
Misha and the Wolves
A Holocaust survivor with an amazing story: fleeing occupation in search of her parents, walking in the wilderness across borders before coming across a pack of wolves who protected her and took her in as one of their own. If it sounds too good to be true, like a Hollywood story — well, that’s what many thought. And what many sought to exploit. Misha and the Wolves is a riveting story about, well, storytelling itself.
Operation Varsity Blues
The College Admissions Scandal — You know the story of celebs like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and their role in a nationwide scandal around admission to the country’s top colleges and universities. Or do you? Operation Varsity Blues is the confounding behind-the-scenes tale of the rich, famous, and powerful using their influence to secure a place for their kids in elite schools…by whatever means necessary.