Documentary Recommendations – Series 5 Crime

This is the final series of my documentary recommendations! If you’ve seen Jinx and Making a Murderer then these documentaries might be your next fix!


I am Innocent (series – Netflix) Would Recommend

This New Zealand crime docuseries is 6 episodes following 6 different cases ranging from murders, juvenile criminals, and family cases. Based on the title you can assume that all criminals telling their story are innocent and have been wrongly convicted. You find out the details of the crime, where things went wrong, and how things were later resolved for the unjustly convicted criminals. After each episode I wanted to go tell my friends and family about this insane, unjust, and true story.


The Staircase (series – Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

I put this documentary as do not recommend because I DNF but I’ve heard from good sources that I should try it again so I’ll give you that same advice. The story follows widow Michael Peterson through his murder trial. The victim? Kathleen Peterson, his wife. You see all the preparation his legal team does, discovering new details and secrets along the way. The documentary is titled The Staircase since Michael finds Kathleen at the bottom of a staircase in their home. In a big twist, you find out that this is not the first time he’s found someone at the bottom of a staircase.


In this doc you’re able to see how Michael and his family handle the trial and you also hear his 911 call after finding Kathleen. It’s natural for viewers to judge a family’s emotions as they go through a trauma like this. You would if you would act the same way? You wonder if there even is a normal way to react from something so far from your everyday life. There are 13 episodes and the verdict is revealed in the 8th so the story does not end at that first trial.


The Seven Five (Netflix) Would Recommend

This documentary follows the corrupt Brooklyn cop Mike Dowd in the 1980s and his last partner Ken Eurell. You learn about the crimes he committed, how he committed them, and who he committed them with. They stole money, drugs, protected and informed criminals, and started their own drug distribution business. I’d say it was rather well known that NYC cops in the 80s were not always on the right side of the law and it’s very interesting to see some of the details first hand. Mike is eventually arrested and I’d say it’s worth watching just to find out how that all happens.


Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO) Would Recommend

This is an extremely well known documentary and a must watch. You follow the story of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy. Gypsy is sadly very ill suffering from leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and brain damage. She’s wheelchair bound, takes a truck load of medications, has undergone too many surgeries to count, and has a feeding tube. Her mother was a devoted caretaker – switching doctors when they started to question Gypsy’s illnesses, moving away from relatives when they became suspicious, and altering her daughter’s birth certificates by 4 years.


After learning about all this young girl has suffered through, you sympathize with her desperate need to escape her mother. So desperate that she might just plot her own mother’s murder.


There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (HBO) Would Not Recommend

This doc was local to me so that was the main interest of why I watched it. It’s about a mom driving 5 kids the wrong way on a parkway and kills herself, 4 of the children, and the 3 passengers of the car she hit. That’s a lot of tragedy in just one car accident so you really want to know how something like this happened. The doc takes you through the events that day between her strange call and the frantic call the kids briefly made to their dad (as they were Diane’s nieces).


You have recounts from other witnesses dodging her car as she drives through oncoming traffic and the background of who she was as a person from her supporters, her husband and sister in law. One decreased child was Diane’s and the other 3 were her brother’s, her brother and his wife did not participant in this doc. Fortunately or perhaps not, the one living child is not really able to give much insight aside from ‘there was something wrong’.


The reason I didn’t like this doc I believe all had to do with the directors storytelling choice. It’s suggested that Diane was a drug addict and miscalculated a dose that lead to this erratic driving behavior. The husband adamantly denies this and it’s mostly dropped by the directors, becoming much more subtle. It wasn’t until I searched discussion boards afterwards that theories about her drug abuse offered some explanation for what happened that day. The husband and sister in law talk about what a great mother and businesswoman she was and how she could have never had such a problem or they would have known about it. The ironic moment I have to mention here is the sister in law smoking a cigarette after hearing some bad news and saying “no one in my family knows about this.”


Documentary Recommendations – Series 4 Animals

I love animals, especially dogs so you can definitely find me watching some documentaries on them. 

Wildlife SOS (series – Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

This follows a wildlife sanctuary in the UK rescuing badgers, birds, deer, foxes, and other animals. I got to tell you, I skipped all the bird parts hah but it was sweet seeing the staff save the animals and nursing them back to health. I learned a lot about badgers but this was more used as background noise as I did other work and just passed the time.


Peculiar Pets (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

This documentary is all filmed in the UK and follows a few cases of households with exotic pets such as crocodile, a lynx and a Komodo dragon. I must admit i skipped the dragon part but the lynx and wolf were cute. It’s a super short doc, just 45 minutes but it’s by no means life changing or deeply interesting.


Dogs (series – Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

There are 6 episodes in this docuseries following a different dog(s) in each episode. I only watched the first two and the fifth episode because those stories seemed most interesting to me. The first was a young teen girl still struggling through getting a hold on her epilepsy. She will be receiving a service dog who will help to recognize when she’s about to go into a seizure and help bring her out of it. You learn a bit more about service dogs, different jobs they can do, and the initial training they have with their new owner. The episode unfortunately ends shortly after the dog goes home with the family so you don’t know exactly how it all turns out.

The second episode is a dog named Zeus who is stuck in Syria while his owner was able to escape on a work visa to Germany (or somewhere). Zeus has been staying with a friend who is also in hiding and it’s not safe for any of them in that warzone. Zeus traveling through borders by car and plane. There are a few hurdles along the way and you’re not sure if Zeus will be reunited with his owner. Everyone loves Zeus and you feel for the friends that are now losing that piece of light in that terrifying war.

The fifth episode is about Territorio De Zaguates in Costa Rico. It’s very possible you’ve heard about it as it’s a bit of a tourist attraction that you can run with hundreds of dogs on the multi acre shelter. This shelter never turns away a dog and it warms your heart to see them get taken off the streets. As the episode unfolds though, you being to question if they’re taking on more dogs than they can handle. Food, money, water, shelter, staff, and vet visits is a lot for any shelter to take on but at this size you wonder if more is always better.    


The Champions (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

These are the dogs from Mike Vick’s dog fighting ring. You learn some terrible details of what he did to these dogs and become angry that he’s a multi millionaire now. The good news is there has luckily been some improvements in the justice system as far as working to rehabilitate the dogs rather than just sending them to be euthanized. You get to see some of the abused dogs in new, loving homes being treated as they deserve as well as seeing dogs at facilities working with dedicated staff. The lack of justice just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as far as recommending it to anyone else.  


Documentary Recommendations – Series 3 Documentaries to Skip

Unfortunately, not every documentary you watch will be a good one. Or sometimes you’ll watch a movie that you kind of enjoyed but you know you wouldn’t recommend anyone else to watch it (for me that Christmas lifetime movies hahah). These four documentaries don’t have any common themes aside from the fact that I don’t think you should watch them lol.


The Woman with Seven Personalities (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

This is a woman in her mid 30s with 6 other personalities that range from about the age of 5 to 15. This documentary didn’t really end up answering any of the questions it proposed throughout the segment. That doesn’t really make for a good documentary… It was interesting hearing from the main woman about the debate of if she would really want to be cured and lose her other personalities.

It also brought in the question if multiple personality disorder is even a real disease or if she’s just faking it. Although Helen has 6 personalities to keep her company in her head, she sadly lives a rather only life. She also unfortunately struggles with two personalities that are self destructive to her such as self harm and alcoholism. Overall, interesting topic but the story doesn’t really end up anywhere.


Look at Us now, Mother! (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

I got bored with this one and stopped. Eventually started again to watch some more but still have not finished. The documentary follows the relationship between the filmmaker and her mother. It’s been a rough relationship since childhood and decades later Gayle is still battling against her disapproving mother. Her brothers make it so obvious how manipulative and emotionally abuse their mother was to Gayle, it’s difficult to hear about a mother being a bully to her own daughter.

The two had just started therapy together when I stopped watching for a second time. Even in her old age, the mother is completely ignorant to how she mistreated her daughter. Young ladies have it hard enough measuring up to society’s ideals without their mother pushing for them to get a nose job. It’s not worth the watch. And of course, I have not finished the film but from my understanding its more so the daughter accepting the mother’s hard ways rather than the mother becoming kind and compassionate, but I could be wrong. 

And just for the little background I did learn about why the mother might treat her daughter like this – The mother saw her husband grow up being the forgotten child compared to his sisters so the mother vowed she would never let her sons feel left out or wouldn’t put her daughter on a pedestal. She unfortunately, took that to the extremely and consistently belittled her daughter instead.


Children of God (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

This documentary follows the memories of a family that lived in a Cult for many years. The first interesting thing about this cult was that the leader wasn’t with the rest of the cult, he just sent letters from a secret location. It’s interesting that the leader had such a presence without even being present. It focused heavily on child abuse and sexual abuse with interviews from the one family that has since left the cult. The cult even featured promotional videos that were essentially children undressing to song.

The other focus was on the sexual activities the wives were essentially forced to do such as sleeping with other husbands and members of the cult as well as sleeping with men in the outside community in order to entice them to join the cult (flirty fishing). It’s a sad documentary as the grown children recount their stories of sexual harassment and rape and dealing with the complicated resentment they have with their mother for putting them in such an environment. It’s disturbing and heartbreaking, and not at the top of my list of recommendations.


End Game (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

This documentary takes place at a hospice- like center. You encounter a handful of people as they face the last few weeks or months of their lives. Death is hard to face but a documentary like this talking about death and the options that come with hospice care is helpful in opening up the conversation. You see patients dealing with their fate differently and the hardships families face as well.

The documentary spent a lot of time on Mitra’s family, a young mother with an end of life cancer diagnosis, weak and rarely lucid. The parents struggled to face that their daughter would not be getting any better and also struggled to decide if they could allow their daughter’s body to help doctors and scientists after death. A documentary shot in hospital setting was very honest about keeping the patients human. The short documentary sits heavy on the soul and I don’t see a reason any of you readers should sit through that.


Documentary Recommendations – Series 2 Abductions & Abuse

The recommendations continue! These topics can be triggering so please leave this page as soon as you feel the need to. Hopefully I don’t give too much away for the ones I am recommending.


Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

Plain Sight is the story of a girl who gets taken by her neighbor, not once but TWICE. This doc will just make you angry. Angry at Jan’s parents for continuously putting her in danger. Angry at B for taking advantage of this young girl for so so many years. Just when you think people in this doc can’t get any dumber, they do. All of Jan’s suffering and abuse could have been prevented but people just kept putting their own needs above her safety. I honestly don’t know how she is able to forgive her parents.


Natascha Kampusch: The Whole Story (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend.

Natascha is abducted on her walk to school one more and subsequently spends the next 8 and a half years captive. This one has subtitles as Natascha is Viennese and it’s short (50 minutes) which is why I finished it. I’m not sure if it was the subtitles or the lack of specific details because I didn’t become intensely invested. ALSO, she could have been home within 5 days, watch the first half to find out why.


Behind Closed Doors (Netflix) – Would Recommend

Behind Closed Doors is a british film following the story of 3 women fighting domestic violence. It is incredible interesting to see all the complicated emotions that they go through and just how deep these wounds go. From an outside perspective, domestic abuse seems so straightforward – if they hit you, you leave. But love is irrational and there is no reasoning with that primitive emotion. These women are all incredibly strong for fighting these men through the court system and for battling with their own complex feelings daily.


I am Jane Doe (Netflix) – Would Recommend

Jane Doe follows 3 young teenage girls who were abducted and sold into sex trafficking. These stories are told by the girls that have been able to return home and their mothers. Viewers see how this tragic abuse has affected their lives, relationships, and all around household attitude. The documentary spends a lot of time on the court cases the girls are fighting for, all centered against the company, Backpages. This is not the first documentary on sex work I’ve seen to involve Backpages. For this particular documentary, the focus was on Backpages’ regulations for users to write personal ads, suggesting that Backpages helps pimps to run their business through this site. Watch Jane Doe to see some of the verdicts.


Documentary Recommendations – Series 1 Fraud & Cover Ups

I’ve been watching a lot of Documentaries lately and I wanted to keep track so I was writing a list for myself and I figure why not share it. The thing is I don’t want to give away too much to other people who might want to watch these documentaries so these aren’t completed reviews.


Sour Grapes (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend

A young guy named Rudy sells fake wine and makes millions. It honestly sounds impressive until near the end when they dive into his family’s crime and wealth and you realize he’s the failed black sheep. Another interesting part is that some of his friends and people in the unique wine community still believe he couldn’t have committed this fraud.  


Fyre Festival (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend (but I know for the sake of pop culture you have to)

The fraud of Billy McFarland and Ja Rule regarding the fake/failed island fyre music festival. Ja Rule seems to be escaping unharmed while the models and influencers are under fire for not stating they were in an ad. I think they had about as much knowledge as the fyre app development team did, which is 0. The stress and injustice for the workers bled out to the viewers. I wasn’t into the documentary enough to watch Hulu’s version and don’t really get the hype for these two docs. The most interesting part about it was that while Billy was out on bail he was trying to scheme AGAIN!


All the Queen’s Horses (Netflix) – Would Recommend

Rita Crundwell steals $53 million from the city of Dixon, IL. This was strictly a one woman job and it was impressive! The stats and graphs they show make it simple for us non accountants to understand. There are a few differences from Rita and how other embezzlers act while committing this crime and it was very interesting to me.


Stink (Netflix) – Would Not Recommend – kind of a DNF(did not finish).

This is about a dad trying to find out what chemicals are made in his young daughters’ clothes. The clothes were from the company Justice and this dad confronts the CEO. I honestly skipped around on this one because it wasn’t interesting me enough. From the parts I saw, it seemed like he was trying to make a connection to these chemicals and the cancer his wife had. The Devil We Know is much, much better.


The Devil We Know (Netflix) – Would Recommend

Devil dives into DuPont’s responsibility in the health risks of their teflon products. The doc touches on specific people affected and their stories as well as widening the scope to see how far it’s deadly consequences have reached. It’s terrifying and tragic how harmful and deadly telfon is and how companies like DuPont would rather death over profit loss.