Best documentaries to watch on Netflix right now

If you love factual shows and documentaries, you will be pleased to know that Netflix is a great place to be if you’re on the hunt for a new series or one-off doc to really get your teeth into. In fact, Netflix has been building one of the largest and most impressive collections of factual programming and factual entertainment on their streaming service for many years now – which sometimes make it feel a bit daunting when you’re trying to decide to what to watch.

It turns out you can have too much of a good thing! Who would have thought their would be wisdom in a phrase that people use all of the time…

Well, as ever Screen OD are here to save the day with an informative video collection (below) which doesn’t just tell you what’s good to watch, it shows you too. Now, who said the future of television recommendations had to be in the future!

However, if you don’t have time to watch the video now, or just want a very simple list before you come back later to enjoy the recommendations in all their audiovisual glory on YouTube, here’s the shows we recommend you watch right now on Netflix if you love factual and documentary programming. We have tried to include different types of shows that will appeal to different tastes in the extremely wide genre, so hopefully there will be something that appeals to you.

High Score

The video games industry is now one of the largest parts of the entertainment space, and this fascinating six part documentary explores the origins and the development of gaming from arcades to home consoles – and the rise of the likes of Nintendo and Sega. A really fascinating insight.

Athlete A

Delving into a terrible abuse scandal that was broken by a team of investigative journalists at the Indianapolis Star around the team Doctor, this is a powerful and at times difficult to watch documentary.

The Sparks Brothers

Directed by Edgar Wright, this film is about the music and the influence of Sparks, the band created by Ron and Russell Mael. Featuring interviews with huge names from the word of music including Flea from the Chilli Peppers and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols to name but a few.

Knock Down the House

This film follows four female Democrat congressional candidates as they attempt to take on the establishment and run for congress in 2018. Includes a lot of AOC before she became a political superstar.

My Octopus Teacher

A warm and uplifting documentary that takes you to the beautiful waters off the coast of South Africa where filmmaker Craig Foster decides to go snorkelling each day with an Octopus.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Describing the documentary as his witness statement, one of the most famous naturalists in the world with an incredibly long and illustrious career explores how much the world has changed in his 90 years on Earth.

The Social Dilemma

This documentary delves into the way that big tech companies use our data to learn about us, sell us stuff and serve us things they think we want. Teaming with former employees from some of the biggest social networks and tech giants, the documentary offers an eye-opening look at big data.

American Factory

The first film to be made for Netflix by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground productions, the award-winning documentary centres on a defunct General Motors plant in Ohio that is taken over by a Chinese company to make glass.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive

The world of Formula 1 is glamorous and exciting, and this behind the scenes docu-series explores just what it takes to keep this enormous high circus on the road across the globe.

5 Came Back

Narrated by Meryl Streep this intriguing documentary explores five filmmakers and their roles within the second world war effort and the films that they made.

Dick Johnson is Dead

Kristen Johnson’s powerful and innovative documentary explores her father’s dementia – highlighting through footage how the disease changes him, but also with his input looking at what the future holds.

Made You Look – A True Story About Fake Art

In this gripping film we follow a story of counterfeit art infiltrating the New York art scene. Barry Avrich’s fantastic film follows an uncanny scandal that would lead to one of the costliest frauds in modern art history.

The Last Dance

This fascinating ten-part documentary follows the last season of Michael Jordan at the Chicago Bulls while looking back at his incredible career and cultural impact as a sportsman.

Make sure you visit the Screen OD YouTube channel now for all the latest video reviews of great things to watch and stream

Tim Glanfield

Tim Glanfield is a journalist, editor and broadcaster with more than 15 years experience writing about television, film and the entertainment business. He has been editor of, a writer for The Times (of London) and the Guardian as well as a freelance contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites across the world. He is author of the book Digital Economy or Bust: The Story of a New Media Startup and makes regular appearances on TV and radio in the UK.

Tim Glanfield has 41 posts and counting. See all posts by Tim Glanfield