Streaming services mesh well with stoner culture. Instant entertainment and large offerings allow you to toke up and relax wherever you are and share engaging and enjoyable movies and television with friends. While it’s great to giggle at It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or re-watch The Office for the 17th time, sometimes you want a more thoughtful experience while high. Thanks to Netflix’s large stable of documentaries, you can satisfy this craving with a number of options. From nature documentaries to true crime, there’s always something new, stimulating and often so far-fetched you can’t believe you’ve never heard of it. To help guide you through the seemingly endless fog of content, we’ve compiled a list of 8 trippy documentaries on Netflix right now. Safe and happy travels!
If you remember a time before computers were ingrained in every fabric of our society, you probably remember the stir about anti-virus software. In the age of dial-up Internet and non-stop pop-ups, one name kept popping up, McAfee. Initially released in 1988, McAfee VirusScan was one of the first household names in virus protection. It’s founder, John McAfee, doesn’t seem quite so harmless. After getting rich off the software, John moved to Belize, where trouble seemed to keep popping up. His compound is raided in 2012 on suspicion of drug trafficking and, later that year, he goes on the run as a fugitive after his neighbour turns up murdered. The film compiles testimony from those who knew and worked for John in Belize, questions the nature he reveals to the public and investigates his suspicious behaviour. More importantly, it shows how quickly your reputation can change, as McAfee ran for president of the United States in 2016 and these events were barely mentioned. Also, pay attention to the hammock story, that’s all I’m saying about it.
You’ve probably heard about Fyre Festival, the luxury music festival that was supposed to take place in the Bahamas in spring 2017. Most people heard about it when the festival went horribly wrong and dozens of Instagram influencers were stranded on the islands for a couple of days. Fyre digs into what exactly went wrong with that festival, its founder Billy McFarland and his history of scamming and the impact it had on thousands of unpaid Bahamian workers and citizens. While Hulu’s documentary is more geared at asking ‘why’ this was possible for the millennial generation, Netflix’s Fyre does a better job of filling in the whole story and illustrating the key players in this disaster. One of the most pivotal scenes shows how the organizers were willing to do anything just to get bottled water for the festival.
On August 28, 2003, Brian Wells robbed a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. While that’s not typical behaviour for the average person, it’s common enough you can wrap your head around it. What no one was able to figure out for a while was why he did it with a live bomb strapped to his neck and a shotgun in the shape of a walking cane. What’s even more surprising is that, shortly after being apprehended by police down the street, the bomb explodes killing him. Evil Genius is a documentary centred around the bank robbery, the filmmaker’s belief that no one would do such a thing with a live bomb. The story quickly takes many turns and involves a number of players who had motives as diverse as jealousy, greed, arrogance and problems as deep and troubling as mental illness and megalomania. You won’t predict where Evil Genius ends up taking you.
Whether you choose to watch the first or second installment of this award-winning documentary series, you’ll be in for a treat. The BBC documentary originally aired in 2006, with the second part coming ten years later, and features an exploration of nature across the globe. The series covers different ecological systems, such as mountains, shallow seas, seasonal forests, etc. and the wildlife that inhabits those regions. Naturalist David Attenborough gives his genre-defining narration and much of the camera work done for the original series was groundbreaking for its time, such as early drone use. Plus, you can watch Snoop Dogg comment on some scenes!
Off the top, a documentary about people so obsessed with their cats they show them in competition doesn’t seem interesting. But you’re wrong. Catwalk follows the tales (and tails) of a number of cats and their owners locked in competition for the top cat of Canada. This short, warm feature highlights the deeply competitive and time-consuming nature of showing cats. If you love cats, it’s a must watch for the gorgeous animals alone, but they also do engaging profiles of the owners that try to answer their motivation for dedicating their lives to feline friends. To quote one of the guest judges from the American Cat Fanciers Association, “I have goosebumps.”
This colourful documentary takes a look at the Portland Mavericks, the last independent minor league baseball team that captured the heart of Portland, Oregon in the 1970s. Started by actor Bing Russell, and aided by his son Kurt, the Mavericks took in the players that no organizations wanted and weren’t beholden to major league money. It showed in their scrappy attitude and delightfully quirky ticks. Their winning record and local adoration speak for themselves and this documentary is a steal for any sports lover, baseball aficionado or anyone who likes an underdog story.
Directed by the same filmmakers as The Battered Bastards of Baseball, Chapman and Maclain Way, Wild, Wild Country dives into the strange world of controversial Indian spiritual guru, Rajneesh and his compound in Wasco County Oregon in the early 1980s. Quotes from some of the early participants claim they thought they were on the cusp of spiritual awakening and a call to consciousness. The greater community wasn’t buying it. Shortly after arriving, quarrels begin with locals and accusations of kidnapping, conspiracy and drug trafficking soon fall on the group. Over the course of its episodes you’ll learn about the first bioterror attack in US history, the largest case of illegal wiretapping ever recorded, and the world’s biggest collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles. Yes, they’re all connected to this quaint utopian compound in an Oregon desert.
I saved this one for last because I’ve never experienced a documentary series that becomes increasingly more ridiculous at the same rate as Age Gap Love. As the name suggests, it follows couples with a large age gap in their relationships. Across the six-part series, the filmmakers document the lives of age gap relationships across gender and sexuality, showing the difficulties of making them work, social acceptance and, in some cases, delusion. What makes Age Gap Love compelling is that you don’t always side with the people in the relationships. Some seem to be true love, others a money grab and still others some twisted kind of power game. Documentaries that take us to the fringe are mesmerizing though and Age Gap Love does that with its combo of engaging subjects, peak dry British narration and questions about the nature of love.