4 Netflix documentaries to help broaden your mind

by Jenna Verhoeven

Here’s a select handful of Netflix docos to help broaden your mind during your next Sunday afternoon recovery sesh or your sweet Friday night binge. FYI, my rating system is based on cats; as in life, one cat is good, but five cats is better!

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018) M

Run time: 1hr 9min

Hannah Gadsby takes a very personal look at sexuality, gender, identity and the life stories we tell. It does get a bit heavy, sharp and shouty; but it also gets you thinking about your own values and the roles you may play in another’s experience. Nanette opens the forum on humility, humiliation, and the tensions we’ve been holding onto for so long.

Best time to watch: On a Sunday afternoon when life feels good, so you can handle the potential tears or rage.

Rating: Five cats

Students who might like it: Art-history majors, Performance Arts, Sociology undergrads.

The Barkley marathons: The race that eats its young (2014) M

Run time: 1hr 29min

An oldy but a goody. Fitness documentaries might be low budget, poor production films, but the characters and storyline are fascinating and inspiring! Barkley documents the 2012 “marathon” event, but this isn’t your ordinary marathon. There’s no aid stations, no route markers… there isn’t even an official start time! At its core, this doco is about gumption, pain and what people can do if they really want to. Inspiring, whether you’re a runner or not.

Best time to watch: Friday night – get fired up to set Saturday’s alarm for 4am to go for that long run!

Rating: Five cats

Students who might like it: Engineering and Physics post-grads, Exercise and Sports Science undergrads, Psych majors.

The Bleeding Edge (2018) MA 15+

Run time: 1 hr 40min

I usually avoid “medical” documentaries, only because I always feel they have a bias or agenda. The Bleeding Edge looks at the growing role that Medical Devices (think artificial joints, pacemakers, saline implants) are playing in the health industry. It examines how the FDA tests and approves Medical Devices, and the back lash it has had in the community. Interesting case studies, especially if you’ve been following the class action case of Australian women against Johnson & Joihnson of the application of Vaginal Mesh.

Best time to watch: Monday night after you’ve just submitted a paper, but aren’t completely braindead.

Rating: Two and a half cats

Students who might like it: Sociology majors, any of the  Health Sciences cohort, anyone with a body.

The Staircase (2018) MA15+

Run time: 13 episodes (total of 10hr 20min)

If you watched Making a Murderer (2015), or Paradise Lost: The child murders at Robin Hood Hills  (1996) in the pre-Netflix era, you can understand this series. Author, Michael Peterson, is on trial for the alleged murder of his wife, who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Within each episode there is another “twist” in the private lives of those involved or “snafu” performed by the cops/forensic investigators. It’s interesting, but may seem predictable at first.

Best time to watch: Wait ‘til mid-session break, or binge over a rainy weekend.

Rating: Three cats

Students who might like it: The Forensic and Police cohort, those of us considering committing a major crime.