How To Watch Depressing Documentaries [ADVICE]

by robinhardwick

Originally posted at:

This advice was not solicited, but it’s useful anyway. A friend and I were talking about how we didn’t leave our apartments once over the weekend- and how amazing that is – and I told her about the depressing documentary marathon I had. She felt she needed to stew in some morbid reality even more than she already was, so I wrote up this resource for her. I thought I’d share it for the masses who like their films to make them feel worse than when they started.

So how do I find out about documentaries to begin with? Several places.

1. Podcasts. Lots of podcasts mention documentaries, namely Vomit on the Web, Get Up On This and The Fogelnest Files. These are not documentary-based podcasts per se, but it does come up often. It seems that people in comedy had a fascination with the morbid lives of others. Go fig!

2. Netflix Streamingand Amazon Prime: Documentary producers are more about getting people to see their films rather than making a profit, so they are usually the first to be available on these networks. Browse the docs and see what you like. If you like one, see who the director/producer is and look up their other work.

3. Youtube: The ‘tube is not just for cat videos and twerking, but there is some obscure media on there as well once you find it. Lots of users post documentaries and there doesn’t seem to be any big complaints from any major studios, they are just worried that god forbid someone posts a cam video of After Earth or some bullshit like that. Once you identify one thing you like, it will lead you to other similar videos. There’s some great short-form docs on here, as well as documentary like shows, which leads me to-

4. British produced television. British stations, in general, tend to produce more documentary -genre shows that are actually compelling and not so much exploitative tabloid-fodder that the US does. There’s some youtube channels that collect these. Ones I have found are:

5. Wikipedia: If you are interested in a certain topic, true crime, era in history, etc., occasionally a documentary will be documented in “other media” on the Wikipedia page.

6. Reddit: If you are not using Reddit, you are wasting a good resource. Sure, Reddit has been in the news lately because of people taking upskirt photos and lots of animal pics, but Reddit is also a great source for people with common, niche interests. I often browse the subreddits r/ObscureMedia and r/Documentaries to find things to watch.

7. Some key websites aggregate lots of data and collect places to watch documentaries. Such as:

Top Documentary Films

Documentary Heaven

Watch Documentary

8.Torrent them. This depends on your ethical stance on torrenting media. Sometimes I hear about a documentary and I want to watch it but the above resources don’t deliver. This, of course, only works if you know exactly what you are looking for.

9. The film maker. If you are really interested in seeing something that is hard to find online, I would say contact the production company. As I mentioned, many documentaries are made out of a labor of love and not necessarily for box office success. If someone is that interested in seeing their work, the film maker may actually be able to send you a copy. Or, at least purchase a copy directly from them. If you are willing to pay.

And, to start you off, here are some of my favorite depressing documentaries [some are harder to locate than others]:


Paradise Lost trilogy

The Bridge

There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane

My Flesh and Blood

Dark Days