Documentaries are always opportunities for education. Whether you’re already obsessed with a topic and want to dig deeper, or you’re just in the mood to learn something new, documentaries are truly ~where it’s at~ these days. But where are the must-watch documentaries themselves at RN? Short answer: Hulu. The streaming platform puts all kinds of docs at your personal disposal, covering everything from celebrities to scandal. Specifically, one of Hulu’s newest documentaries, Changing The Game, is making waves as it highlights the lives of three transgender teens and the impact sports have on their lives.
In the film, audiences meet high school-age transgender athletes from Connecticut, Texas, and New Hampshire who participate in sports like track, skiing, and wrestling. Each of them are pushing boundaries in their community, and some get a great deal of backlash from spectators who perceive the athlete’s presence at the school competitions as “unfair.” The film follows the teens as they grapple with their own confusing adolescent emotions, how they’re paving the way for other young athletes, their desire to beat other competitors, and so much more.
If this documentary piques your interest, that’s just the tip of the digital iceberg. For more groundbreaking documentaries of all sorts, all you have to do is sign into your Hulu account. These 37 documentaries are the best of the best and all available to stream on Hulu, right from your laptop (or phone… or TV…). It’s time to get more #informed on all kinds of world issues.
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Changing The Game
Learning more about both the struggles and triumphs of transgender athletes is possible through this documentary, Changing The Game, which premiered in June 2021. The film follows the lives of three teens who are all transgender athletes partaking in sports like skiing, track, and wrestling.
Framing Britney Spears
If you’re not up-to-date on what’s going on with the #FreeBritney movement, The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears is the perfect way to catch up. While it doesn’t feature an interview with the celebrity herself, it does it a deep dive into Britney’s past, how she was treated by the media in the early 2000’s, what prompted her conservatorship, and more.
Cue nostalgic vibes: With footage from iconic ’90s actress Soleil Moon Frye, who brought her camera everywhere during that time period, this documentary explores what it was like to be a teen star at the turn of the millennium. Frye’s camera captures interactions with other celebs like David Arquette, Brian Austin Green, Charlie Sheen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Corey Feldman, Michael Rapaport, and more. (And ICYMI, DiCaprio is an executive producer on the doc.)
Three Identical Strangers
A 2018 Sundance hit, this film follows a set of triplets who were adopted at birth by three separate families. As they grow up, they’re never told that each other exist. Thing is, the three of them are identical and discover each other by chance at age 19. Later, the triplets realize their circumstances are a result of a “nature vs. nurture” study that went undisclosed for years.
In this chilling documentary, children attend a summer camp that teaches them how to be “God’s army” and that they all have “prophetic gifts” that will teach them how to prepare for Jesus’ return to the planet. It was nominated in the Best Documentary category at the 79th Academy Awards, and it aims to depict life in the Evangelical Christian community.
The notorious Fyre Festival, which ultimately failed and left hundreds of people stranded on a small island, is the centerpiece of this fan-favorite Hulu documentary. It explores the lies told by Billy McFarland, a serial entrepreneur whose many businesses caused financial devastation for others. Consider it a pop culture must-watch.
A hit at 2013 Sundance and nominated for a BAFTA award for Best Documentary, Blackfish explores the life of Tilikum, a killer whale who was put on display and used for spectator shows at SeaWorld. Using interviews with SeaWorld trainers and old footage of the theme park’s caretakers, the film looks at the controversial nature of putting animals in captivity, especially ones as large and as potentially life-threatening as killer whales.
I Am Greta
This documentary explores the life of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. It follows her life from rallying outside of her school to raise climate change awareness, to striking at major sessions in Swedish parliamentary meetings, to delivering her world-renowned speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
Take a deep dive into the life of renowned singer Billie Holiday with this documentary released in 2019. It features performance recordings with remastered audio as well as interviews with other popular singers and musical artists of the time period and today.
Into The Deep
Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Into The Deep features inventor Pete Madsen, whose life was documented by Australian filmmaker Emma Sullivan. While in the process of filmmaking, however, Madsen murdered a journalist who boarded his homemade submarine, prompting the subject of the film to take a true-crime turn.
Dominic Fike, At First
If you love all things music industry-related, you’ll love this hour-long feature created by The New York Times. It centers around the life of Dominic Fike, a musician from Naples, Florida who nabbed a multimillion-dollar record deal after releasing his demo on Soundcloud while on house arrest. His story is pretty darn amazing and, yep, his music is insanely good.
The Donut King
This documentary follows the life of Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy, a man who came to the U.S. and started a donut shop business in Los Angeles, California. The expansion of his shops over the years led him to make millions, and he gave back in the process by employing hundreds of other Cambodian immigrants looking for work. The problem, though, is that all of his wealth eventually went away after he got caught up in a gambling scheme.
Some Kind Of Heaven
One of the U.S.’s largest retirement communities is called The Villages in Florida, home to hundreds of elderly patrons. They’re designed to be a problem-free, happiness-inducing environment, with some even calling The Villages “heaven on earth.” This documentary takes a look inside these retirement communities, getting to the bottom of the good and, well, the bad of such a facility.
Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers
This true crime documentary explores the inner lives of the Menendez family, whose movie executive father and beauty queen mother were murdered in their Beverly Hills mansion. The culprit? Their two sons, who were eventually convicted of planning their murder. This doc takes a look at the families’ lives, what prompted their deaths, and much more.
Minding The Gap
If you’re into skateboarding culture and all of its eccentricities, you’ll love Minding The Gap. Filmmaker Bing Liu connects with his childhood skateboarder friends (all of whom had relatively turbulent lives) to explore the way that skating, modern masculinity, and “growing up” are all intertwined.
The Mole Agent
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, The Mole Agent follows a private investigator as he hires a man to disguise himself as a retirement home patron in Chile. By going undercover, the elderly-man-in-disguise documents instances of suspected abuse and mistreatment occurring in retirement homes in the country.
Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath
If you love Leah Remini and learning about the mysterious lives of the celebrity elite, then get ready to binge this docuseries. It explores Leah’s life as she grew up practicing Scientology, what eventually led her to leave the community, and her critiques of the practice as well as her indoctrination as a young woman.
WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn
Not caught up on the WeWork drama yet? Now’s your chance. This documentary explores what went wrong in the development of this multibillion dollar co-working space startup, what was going on amongst the inner workings of the company’s executive team, critiques of the business model, and more.
Skin: A History of Nudity In Movies
So you probably know that nudity wasn’t always accepted in mainstream movies. When and, more importantly, *why* did it become implemented in popular films? This documentary explores the history of nudity in movies, starting in the silent movie era and stretching all the way to today.
Learn more about the impressive-yet-challenging life of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this documentary. It features interviews with RBG herself, commentary from her family members and friends, footage from her early life, and more.
Aretha Franklin fans, this documentary is for you. It features a *live recording* performance of her album, Amazing Grace, which took place at The New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles.
I Am Not Your Negro
For fans of James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro explores the life of Baldwin and his critique of the U.S.’s failures to address racism in its laws and cultures. It features the unfinished draft of a new book Baldwin had been working on, in which he grappled with the murders of his three friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Charles & Diana 1983
Those interested in British royal history will enjoy this deep dive into the year 1983, when Princess Diana and Prince Charles went on a royal tour to Australia. According to the documentary, the trip exposed many inklings that the two were having underlying issues well before Diana’s death in 1997.
The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story
Nickelodeon lovers are going to be obsessed with this nostalgia-inducing documentary. It explores the rise of the Nickelodeon network, which launched in 1995, and includes interviews with many of the celebrities, actors, writers, and creators responsible for the channel’s rise and, later, its self-proclaimed “golden years.”
Amy Winehouse: A Final Goodbye
Fans of the late Amy Winehouse will appreciate this documentary which does a deep dive into the inner workings of her life—from childhood to adult stardom, to her addiction and eventual death in 2011. The documentary features footage of the star throughout her career, as well as interviews with those who knew her intimately.
Ask Dr. Ruth
Yes, 93-year-old Dr. Ruth is one of the U.S.’s most renowned, celebrated sex therapists to date. This documentary follows the life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, exploring everything from her experience as a Holocaust survivor to her role in the country’s ultimate sexual revolution.
Joan Jett: Bad Reputation
Rocker fans, now’s your time to shine. This film explores the life of badass rock musician Joan Jett, which among other things, includes her formation of the band the Runaways, her partnership with producer Kenny Laguna, and the creation of her record label Blackheart Records. The doc’s pinnacle moment is, yep, when Joan Jett & The Blackhearts are inducted into the 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
This documentary takes a look into the vast collection of unseen video and audio recordings from the legendary musician and songwriter Frank Zappa. It features interviews from those who have both studied his career and those who knew him closely. Trust: You’ll leave knowing more about his role in non-conformism, improv, and musical experimentation in the U.S and beyond.
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week
Yep, this movie earned lots of critical acclaim, including winning Best Movie at the 59th Grammy Awards as well as being nominated for Best Documentary at the 70th BAFTA Awards. Directed by Ron Howard, the film dives into The Beatles’ lives from 1962 to 1966, which includes the band’s coming to fruition as well as their U.S. takeover.
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
This film follows the rise of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, a Japanese sushi master whose restaurant has garnered three Michelin stars since its creation. He is the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat restaurant that’s located in a Tokyo subway station and features a 20-part tasting menu, which you can eat for a *minimum* of 270 U.S. dollars.
Erotica lovers, unite! Here, a documentary explores the world of erotic fiction and the authors who have made tons of money in this sphere of publishing. It also notes that, while 50 Shades of Grey has its flaws, it exposed a space that publishers were ignoring in the book industry: the ever-naughty realm of erotica.
Get ready to crave a big bowl of ramen after watching this mouthwatering documentary. It explores the practice of Japanese chef Osamu Tomita, who is known for his ramen and keeping much of his recipes and techniques a secret. (Seriously, people will wait all day in line just to eat from one of his restaurants.)
Narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, this documentary takes footage from the lives of astronauts aboard the International Space Station who get to view earth from the outside. Filmed over the course of 15 months, the film features video from astronauts of four different agencies: the U.S., Russia, Europe, and Japan.
A British documentary, this film explores the rise and fall of the producer Harvey Weinstein. Notably, it investigates how Weinstein was capable of manipulating and sexually abusing so many individuals while also operating under the threat of being found out by the authorities.
Love wine? Follow along. This movie chronicles the lives of four individuals who are attempting to pass the incredibly difficult Master Sommelier exam, which requires you to be able to demonstrate a breadth of knowledge regarding the wine sphere. And, yep, you’ll also get a peek into how wine is actually made in the U.S, Italy, France, Germany, and more.
An inside look into the world of one of fashion’s biggest names, McQueen explores the life of British designer Alexander McQueen via friend and family interviews, archival footage, and more. It tells the story of McQueen’s rise to fame, his time as the head designer at Givenchy, starting his own label, as well as his untimely death in 2010.
Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story
If you’re interested in exploring the way food waste is generated across the country and around the world, look no further. This documentary demonstrates how food gets made, put on your table, and later thrown away even when it’s still of use. From farms to retail stores, here’s an inside scoop on just how much food waste unfortunately exists and why.
Madeline Howard is the editorial assistant at Women’s Health.
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