Monday, April 8, 2013

Procrastination Pals: My Favorite Netflix Documentaries

I figure I'm not the only tragic procrastinator on here - right, guys? Well, if you're part of the "why do today what I can put off till tomorrow" clan, I'd like to share some of my favorite time-wasters with you. I confess, I have an addiction: it's the Documentaries section on Netflix Instant.

I watch them with my friends when classes get cancelled, I watch them with my boyfriend when we're spending a night in, but mostly, I watch them when I'm avoiding writing an essay. It's like procrastinating by exercising - it feels almost productive, even if it isn't really the thing you're supposed to be doing. Also, I just really like to learn about odd things. I have a vast collection of trivial knowledge, and I work tirelessly to add to it every day. Here are a few of my favorite picks on Netflix Instant right now:


1. Forks Over Knives - I've seen a lot of documentaries about vegetarianism/veganism, and this one is by far my favorite. It doesn't just play on your heartstrings, it makes a compelling case for health and wellness, and I was shocked by some of the things I learned - and I say this as a vegetarian of 8 years.
2. 6 Days to Air: the Making of South Park - I understand if South Park isn't your cup of tea. It can be gross, bawdy, and outright incredibly offensive. I've always been a casual fan, but after I saw this documentary, I had a real appreciation for the show that I never had before. It turns out, South Park manages to stay so topical because they don't start making their episodes until about a week before they're going to air (!!). It's seriously incredible to see the speed and dexterity that Matt Stone and Trey Parker work with, as well as a peek into their brilliant (if not a bit twisted) minds.
3. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey - There is some controversy floating around about the protagonist of this documentary, but when I first saw it, it was about a boy who worked tirelessly to achieve his dream of being a puppeteer on Sesame Street, and eventually became one of the most beloved characters of all time. It's painfully heartwarming, and it will make your inner child dance with joy.
4. Exit Through the Gift Shop - This trippy documentary by London's favorite anonymous political graffiti artist Banksy guarantees to throw you off kilter about 10 times a minute. It changes subjects halfway through, and never stops surprising you and visually intriguing you. While it is a bit experimental, it also provides an interesting look into the underground world of street art.
5. The American Scream - I'm a little bit biased here, but I have a huge thing about Halloween and haunted houses, and this documentary is about people who make elaborate haunt displays in their backyards. It takes place in my home state of Massachusetts, and it's a surprisingly heartwarming case study about how far people will take their favorite hobbies for the good of the community and themselves.
6. Buck - My dad introduced me to this documentary about the "horse whisperer" Buck Brannaman. This is a fascinating look into the relationship between man and animal, and while I'm a big dog person, it's always nice to see how we can bond with our fellow non-canine creatures, too. This man is truly a miracle worker, and to watch how his process was formed and how incredibly effective he is at connecting with even the wildest animals.
7. Conan O' Brien Can't Stop - During high school, I often had trouble sleeping, and found myself on many a school night watching my dearest Conan O' Brien while I tried to will myself to sleep. I pretty much imprinted on him, and now he is my one and only late night man. This documentary gives you a look at the tour he embarked on when he was out of a job, and shows him to be a strongly impassioned man who cares so deeply about his craft and coworkers that he never stops striving for perfection. It's easy to forget when you see personas on TV that there's a real person behind the mask - it's so interesting to see what our favorite celebrities are like when they're "off."
8. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father - A serious warning about this one: it's incredibly emotionally draining and will fill you with barrels of sadness and rage. I don't hesitate to recommend it, I just want you to know it's a real undertaking. I went into this a little blind, and I think that's the best way - I'll just tell you that this is a documentary made by the loved ones of a family that suffered an unprecedented loss because of an unstable woman and a failure of the justice system.
9. This Film is Not Yet Rated - This is a fascinating expose on the film ratings system and their shady tendencies. It discusses everything from bias against independent studios to sexism, and much more. It's kind of thrilling, as the ratings commission is under many safeguards, and at some points this documentary plays out like a spy film. This was one of my first "fight the man!" documentaries, and it's still one of my favorites.

I hope I shared something new and intriguing with you guys today! Do you love documentaries, too? Please tell me some of your favorites! I'm always on the hunt...


  1. My favorite documentary I've seen lately is Happiness guessed it. Truly fascinating look at happy people around the world and why they are happy though.

  2. ooh, that sounds so lovely and uplifting! I always end up watching sad documentaries. I will check that out, thank you!

  3. I really loved the Elmo doc. - despite the sad controversy that now surrounds it. I'm interested in watching the one on film ratings especially here. A couple weeks ago, I will fully admit that I watched the Catfish doc - the one that MTV based a show on. Pretty darn interesting if you ask me :-)

  4. My boyfriend is obsessed with documentaries so I'm totally emailing this post to him! That'll entertain him for a while ;)

    xo Marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

  5. Oh, I loved Catfish! It was so suspenseful!

  6. I really want to watch like ALL of these with you! Especially Exit Through the Gift Shop - I feel like I can't be a true Banksy fan until I see it!!!

  7. Any time any place my love! I'm always down to watch documentaries...