Top Netflix Original Documentaries and Docuseries

Cheryl Greenway What's on Netflix Avatar

Learning never ends and Netflix has an extensive library of documentaries and docuseries to choose from. From hobbies to education, with so many great documentaries out there the possibilities are really endless. I encourage you to watch more documentaries. Ranging from stunningly beautiful to dark and fascinating, they really are a treat. In addition to the stellar series the company has been churning out, they have treated us to quite a number of documentaries on a variety of subjects, some even earning Oscar nods. 2016 continued the streak. Let’s take a look at some of the offerings you should definitely consider adding to your queue.


This series satisfies that true-crime void that may be left after you finished Making A Murderer. From Academy Award winner Simon Chinn and Emmy Award winner Jonathan Chinn, it reconstructs some of history’s most complex and high-stakes hostage negotiations. Producers have managed to gain access to (and footage of) some enthralling cases, and will cover both high-profile negotiations and ones that have been kept hidden from the public. The perspective of negotiators, government officials, and even the kidnappers themselves are covered with the victims themselves recounting the ordeals.

Amanda Knox

Directors Rod Blackhurst (Tribeca Audience Award–winner Here Alone) and Brian McGinn (IDA Award–winner Chef’s Table) and producer Mette Heide (Peabody Award–winner India’s Daughter) explore this notorious case that made tabloid headlines around the world. When details began unfolding, people scrambled to get more info about the primary suspect, Foxy Knoxy. It was a sensation that captivated us initially because of the details and the bizarre circumstances, but over time we became even more fascinated with the perceived miscarriage of justice. This is the first film Knox has agreed to participate in, and she carries herself with grim dignity. The inappropriately grinning girl in the tabloid photos from so many years ago is gone.

Chelsea Does

A lead-up to her Netflix talk show, Chelsea Handler explores four topics that fascinate her: marriage, racism, technology and drugs. It’s sort  documentary, part reality tv. There are roundtable discussions, interviews, public commentary, and other various means of exploring each topic. I’d say some segment work much better than others, but it all adds up to compelling watching.

My Beautiful Broken Brain

From executive producer David Lynch, this film follows the story of Dutch-French filmmaker Lotje Sodderland and her journey of rehabilitation she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. Eight days after she suffered the brain hemorrhage, she contacted filmmaker Sophie Robinson to ask her to help document the after-effects. The pair initially filmed 150 hours of footage, most of it self-shot by Sodderland on her iPhone, which was edited to create this documentary piecing together Sodderland’s recovery. Says David Lynch:

“The brain is truly fascinating, and much in the way that our brains are able to achieve total coherence — finding enlightenment and fulfillment — you will surely be moved and inspired by this journey of self-rediscovery.”

The examination of Sodderland’s struggle to regain language and memory manages to be at once visually arresting, deeply moving and uplifting.

Audrie & Daisy

In the age of social media, online harassment has become disturbingly common. Acclaimed documentarians Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk explore the experiences of strangers with parallel stories. Audrie and Daisy were both were with classmates and, while unconscious, sexually assaulted by boys they thought were friends. The public shame and judgments they experienced from classmates and adults in the town are quite shocking. This examination of rape culture and how common and accepted the attitudes toward victims is quite emotional and a worthy watch.

For more information, including how you can take action on this topic, visit


Into The Inferno

This is a documentary to watch just for its stunning photography. Directer Werner Herzog journeys around the world with volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer exploring some of the world’s most mythical volcanoes in the search to understand the relationship between mankind and the unstable wonders.

“It is nature. We are right on top of it. And the kind of force and dynamics and raw power of it has a strange beauty. You can’t take your eyes away, like when you are looking at your campfire or fireplace at home. It’s something primordial.” -Werner Herzog

We are treated to hypnotizing waves of magma, fiery explosions, and rivers of lava. The captivating interviews and extraordinary imagery make for fascinating watching.


With more original content than ever on the horizon for 2017, there should be plenty of of titles to keep us all busy. Happy streaming!

Written by

Cheryl has written for What’s on Netflix for over three years. She’s a confessed streaming addict and also runs a Netflix based community on Facebook with over 10,000 users. Cheryl specializes in documentaries and covers weekly additions for the US in addition to breaking news stories. She is the Weekend Editor for What’s On Netflix. Cheryl resides in Virginia, USA.