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If Love Island Isn’t Your Thing

Author: Lauren Coleman

Are you watching Love Island? I watched the first one, then missed a couple and then didn’t go back to it. Our work WhatsApp is on fire with all the gossip and I don’t have a clue what anyone is going on about. I have to tell you though when we do get to settle down about 9pm, we are making the most of our Netflix subscription.

We’ve featured many a post on here about our favourite boxsets and I see frequent requests from folks on Insta asking for suggestions on which series they can get acquainted with. Instead today’s post is an antithesis to Love Island and the World Cup coverage and focuses on the more factual programmes around (although maybe I should use the term loosely). You see I am hooked on documentaries. A few worth talking about:

The Staircase

Netflix describe this with the caption: “Accident or murder? After the mysterious death of his wife, author Michael Peterson watches his life go under the microscope. “
We’re only a few episodes into the series about a man accused of murder after his wife is found at the bottom of her staircase. So far each one has had James and I turn to each other with our mouths gaping. Each part had begun with a clanger of a plot twist and I honestly have to say I have no idea how it’s going to unfold.

Wild Wild Country

Adam and I seem to have a slight obsession at the moment with True Crime podcasts. Even though it’s several months since I listed to the Jonestown massacre three-parter, it still gives me chills.
Wild Wild Country takes place in the wake of Jonestown. (Until 9/11, the death of 909 individuals in November 1978 at the hands of Jim Jones was the largest number of American civilian casualties in a non-natural event). This six-part series focuses on controversial Indian spiritual leader Bhagwan and the rise and fall of his Rajneeeshpuram commune in Oregon. We meet foul-mouthed Ma Anand Sheela, Bhagwan’s right-hand woman who clearly knows how to manipulate a situation and her battle with the residents of the local town. I found her utterly fascinating.
It’s quite ambiguous, and some key moments glossed over (the salmonella outbreak in the neighbouring town for example) and I found each episode around 15 minutes too long. However as the filmmakers had access to around 300 hours of footage filmed at the time, it’s an exceptional part of history to have access to and one that I found incredibly interesting.

Blackfish

I watched this several years ago, yet it’s still a documentary that’s stayed with me. When I was younger I was a tad green-eyed at friends who got to go to Seaworld to swim with dolphins and see the Orcas. It never once occurred to me how these animals found their way into these theme parks. The critically acclaimed documentary explores the treatment of orcas in captivity and the impact of their mental health. The one and a half hour programme follows the life of male killer whale, Tilikum who is captured from his mother as a calf and ended up at Seaworld’s Orlando theme park performing in front of the crowds. Whilst in captivity the whale experiences isolation and a lack of intellectual stimulation. In turn this leads to frustration resulting in the involvement in the deaths of three humans, the final being of trainer Dawn Bracheau in a post-show routine. It’s an unsettling watch but has led to significant changes in the way Seaworld operate.

Dreams of a Life

I don’t think this one is around on Netflix or iPlayer anymore but it sprang to mind a few weeks ago. We were in France for James’ Dad’s birthday and the conversation somehow moved around to the subject of dying alone. I promise you it was in no way a morbid trip!
This documentary centres on Joyce Carol Vincent, a woman whose decomposed body is found an unbelievable three years after her death in a London flat. I’ve read this film has been criticised for being too brief, but for me, this is entirely the point. Joyce spent her life moving around social circles and so her movements are difficult to piece together and this is why her death went undiscovered for so long. The footage at the end is haunting and it’s a sad and poignant piece of television.

What The Health

Now the research and studies this documentary is based on have been highly debated, but regardless of whether you choose to take the content with a pinch of salt, it’s a highly engaging program which explores the link between animal consumption and human health. The expose on the food and pharmaceutical industry is likely to have you wanting to grow all your own food and consider the way you consume your food.

What should I be watching when we reach the end of The Staircase? Anyone else hooked on documentaries too?

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24 thoughts on “If Love Island Isn’t Your Thing

  1. I love a good documentary. Really liked Wild Wild Country but felt that I couldn’t draw any real conclusions from it. The Staircase is on the list and might download a few episodes to kill time at the airport/on the plane later this week. I would highly recommend Flint Town – it’s about the police force and it’s insane. I’ve tried to sum it up multiple times when writing this comment and I can’t do it justice! It’s not an easy watch by any stretch but I was hooked. The cinematography is outstanding too.

    Icarus is another favourite – all about doping in sport. It takes a massive twist and they basically unearth one of the biggest sporting scandals. There are moments in it that are just unbelievable – when they bring the evidence to the world’s biggest sports governing bodies and the reaction was a particular highlight!

    1. I can’t believe I forgot to put Icarus in there Jo! It’s unbelievable. I always think these documentaries that start out to depict one thing and end up unearthing another are always fascinating – on that note, have you seen Queen of Versaille? It’s enthralling.
      Agree on Wild Wild Country – I felt a little unsatisfied at the end.
      Have a great trip and thanks for the Flint Town recommendation.

      1. Ooh thanks for the recommendation – will take a look!

        I also forgot to say that American Vandal is a great antitode/satirical take on true crime docs. The plot is silly but it still hooks you in trying to figure out what the ‘truth is. Plus stylistically, it absolutely nails it.

  2. Can I throw a book into the mix? Currently reading The Dry, probably the best thing I’ve read since Gone Girl (and I read quite a lot!). TV wise Queer Eye on Netflix – every episode is very funny but also very uplifting, they genuinely do a lot of good for people and season 2 has just come out.

    That being said I do have to fit into my chapters/my whole life around Love Island

    1. Beckie, I will allow you to throw a book in 😉
      I’ve seen a few folks mention Queer Eye on Insta Stories – must add that one to the list x

    2. The Dry was so good! A really clever crime novel. Definitely want to read more but also thought it would make a fab tv adaptation.

  3. Oh I love a good documentary. I too would highly recommend ‘Flint Town’- as JoG mentions it’s hard to pin down an accurate way to describe the show but it is pretty shocking and desperately sad. I also would recommend ‘Evil Genius’ which is the story of the pizza bomber, a quiet unassuming pizza delivery man who turns up in a bank with a collar bomb strapped around his neck. That’s not even the shocking part of the story! If you like a true crime podcast you may have already heard about the pizza bomber from the Casefile podcast (in my opinion the best true crime podcast out there) in the Brian Wells episode. The documentary tackles it from a different angle and is just as good.

    1. Just telling James how good this sounds and he tells me he’s already done the casefile and the netflix series. Not sure where I was?!

  4. Thanks for this Lauren, I have to say the game changer for me was the Minimalism documentary, it really opened my eyes to our consumer society and helped me to make some changes to how I live and what possessions I own. Ive watched it twice and got their book, I love their message!

    1. I started watching this Jess and never finished it so must go back to it. I’ve heard very good things about it x

  5. Oh my goodness! Just checked out dreams of a life and watched the trailer too. Unbelievable seems the only fitting description!
    If we’re giving books too, I’d suggest ‘this is going to hurt’. I finished it in 24hours and found it to be hilarious and upsetting in equal measure.

    1. Charlie, it’s so sad. Worth a watch.
      Love a book that only takes 24 hours to read. Don’t you feel sad when it’s all over though?!

      1. Absolutely but my challenge is 30 books a year so I have to get a wriggle on! Ha! It used to be 52 but it’s much harder with a 1 year old! X

  6. I’m also loving The Staircase at the moment and am about half way through.. just as you think you have decided if it was an accident or not, something else turns up as evidence to make you think the contrary.
    A real feel-good series that I have sadly (because it was so good!) just finished watching is The Kindness Diaries. A chap travelling across the world with no money and relying on the kindness of strangers – very thought-provoking and made me blub regularly

  7. Ooooh I’m deeeep into second series of Handmaid’s Tale, I wait desperately for it to drop on All 4 each week!

    We just watched Unabomber which was good- Paul Bettany is such a good actor. We also watched All or Nothing- All Blacks which was fascinating if you’re into rugby and a great nose into one of the world’s best sports teams. My husband loves American football so we’ve watched the NFL ones too, which are a real eye opener- the obscene amount of money spent on training facilities etc is just bananas.

    Also Poldark. That opening sequence 😳

  8. I know I’m a day late to this thread but we have just watched ‘The Sinner’ and ‘Safe’ on Netflix. Both are fantastic gripping crime/thriller series and both are only 8 episodes long to you don’t have to wait forever to get to the end!!
    If you’re a fan of Harlan Coben books, which we are, then Safe is set in a gated community in England and features Michael C Hall (Dexter) and Amanda Abbington (Mrs Watson in Sherlock). Safe is written by Harlan Coben and is about Michael C Hall’s daughter who goes missing after a party and then her boyfriend turns up dead. We ended up completely binge watching it.
    As we did ‘The Sinner’, featuring Jessica Biel. She is a mother with a husband and young child who at the beach one day with her family, seemingly inexplicably stabs another man without any pre-meditation. This also features Bill Pullman as the detective who tries to help her unravel her memories.
    Both superb.

    1. I have to say I found the Sinner totally exasperating – huge plot hole I thought and I felt robbed of the time I gave it!!

      1. Tara, I am totally with you on ‘Sinner. I had read so many recommendations & just thought the plot holes were ridiculous! A second season is being made which I think is a waste.

        BIG fan of Handmaids Tale not one for when your feeling low tho as really does make you question the world we are living in.

        1. Pria, I read the book and couldn’t bring myself to watch the series after!
          I cannot understand the hype for Sinner – will definitely avoid the next series.
          In the middle of Godless now and enjoying it as a change – based in the American wild west!

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