The best part about school was the day a teacher would come in, defeated and potentially hungover, turn off the lights and pop in a documentary. What better way to spend a school day than staring at a TV, eh?
Yet documentaries really are a great way to immerse yourself, if only briefly, in a subject you might not know much about. No matter what your mood, there’s always a documentary to fit the occasion. So turn on your Chromecast and consider one of these options the next time you want to stay in but pretend you’re being smart and productive.
When you’re just cuddling with your dog who you SWEAR understands English.
Documentary choice: Blackfish.
This documentary about the mistreatment of Sea World animals will make you feel bad about all the times you bitched about your parents not letting you swim with dolphins.
When you’re feeling bad about yourself and want to be reminded that you’re not THAT stupid.
Documentary choice: Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief.
We all know that Tom Cruise is pretty crazy and Scientology is insane, but uhm, you have no idea how entirely fucked and crazy it is until you see this.
When you’ve spent the whole day looking for proof that there’s a ghost in your bedroom.
Documentary choice: Room 237.
So you probably didn’t realize, but The Shining has a pretty devoted fan base who treat The Shining as way more than a movie. Instead, they view it as a puzzle from Stanley Kubrick that might say something about Native Americans or maybe holds the key to proving the moon landing was faked. The conspiracy theories that surround the movie are absolutely fascinating and will send you on an Internet spiral, guaranteed.
When all you want is a good cry.
Documentary choice: The Act of Killing.
This acclaimed documentary is not for those looking for a light movie-watching experience. Centered around the Indonesian killings of 1965-66, this documentary examines the the thousands of deaths from the perspective of the killers themselves, interviewing the notorious gangsters involved and letting them reenact their memories of the violence they committed as if it were a movie scene. You won’t see the ending coming.
When you’re pretty stoned.
Documentary choice: Cosmos: A Space Odyssey.
Let Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s calming voice wash over you as you look at all the pretty images of space and marvel at how we’re all just tiny specks of dust or whatever.
When you’re in desperate need of inspiration.
Documentary choice: Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
This documentary follows the world’s greatest sushi chef, Jiro, with his tiny, 10-seat restaurant. His sushi is so good, people actually want to eat in a subway station restaurant.
When you just watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and don’t get all of The Jinx references.
Documentary choice: The Jinx.
This documentary has six parts, but you won’t notice the length as you follow the bizarre case of Manhattan millionaire Robert Durst, who got away with some very suspicious acts. Oh, and unlike other popular shows about the nature of guilt, this one has a definitive answer at the end, so no need to get in a heated argument on Reddit about whether he’s innocent or not.