Documenting My Self-isolation Entertainment
Locked indoors with plenty of time on our hands, many of us are turning to streaming services for our entertainment. Gemma Ferguson takes us through her newest documentary finds during self-isolation.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been watching hours of content on Netflix, Disney+ and Stan. From rewatching ‘Friends’ (for like the hundredth time), to binging garbage reality TV like ‘Love Is Blind’, and even soaking in the new ‘100 Humans’ social experiment series. And of course, everyone seems to be getting on board the ‘Tiger King’ bandwagon – I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve got enough information from the countless memes flooding my social media feeds.
However, it was getting to the point where I was getting a little sick of comedic TV shows. They’re great for those people wanting something on in the background, or if you’ve got several hours to kill, but I was looking for something a little different. For a change of pace, I went to the documentaries tab on my three favourite streaming sites and watched a few films I’d never seen before. And it went like (yes, I’ve been watching a lot of TikToks, too)…
With such a broad selection on Netflix, I couldn’t watch just one documentary. I ended up picking both ‘FYRE: The Greatest Festival That Never Happened’, and ‘Social Animals’. And holy crap were they entertaining.
I remember when the ‘FYRE’ documentary was released, and everyone was talking about it. Like ‘Tiger King’, I got a basic understanding of the storyline from what I heard and seen from people posting online – but until I watched it, I had no idea what I was missing out on. The craziness of the situation had me audibly gasping throughout the whole movie. My keen interest in travel, PR, and festivals was an added bonus that only sucked me into the drama even more. It made me ponder the trust we put in celebrities, and how humans react when they’re put in unfavourable situations. I’d highly recommend this documentary to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
The next Netflix documentary I watched was ‘Social Animals’, which Netflix labelled as a “hidden gem”. It was an interesting look into the lives of three American teens and how they’d been impacted by Instagram – the good, the bad, and the ugly that all affected their lives based on how they used the platform. No spoilers, but shit gets wild! It was interesting to see the massive impact social media had on these people, and made me certainly think more about how we use such platforms. Sometimes scary, and in parts downright sad, this documentary took me through a rollercoaster of emotions but I’m certainly glad I watched it.
I know what you’re thinking: “Disney+ has documentaries?!” It sure does, and while a lot of them are wildlife-David-Attenborough-types, I found one that stood out from the rest and peaked my interest – Marvel’s ‘Assembling A Universe’. Yep, it’s a behind the scenes look at the planning that went into creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). From casting, to character development, to maintaining the storyline, this documentary gives us an insider scoop into the whole thing. Seeing all the thought that went into every movie, TV series, short film, and comic book adaptation was truly inspiring. I still can’t believe the MCU is something that was only brought to screen in my lifetime – the culture they’ve built and the fans they’ve made, in such a short time, is incredible. I think the excitement we all felt in the cinema throughout ‘Avengers: Endgame’, and the atmosphere that was built by pure anticipation, speaks for itself.
My one gripe with this is the fact that it was released in 2014, so there’s a whole lot of content from recent years that isn’t covered. Even still, this film acts as a great introduction, which I hope is followed by a sequel that shows the developments since it was released. I recommend this documentary to any movie buffs and/or Marvel fans out there – hell, even if you don’t understand the MCU, spend 45 minutes getting to know it and I’m sure you’ll finally understand why a few “superhero movies” managed to hook us all.
Stan also has a whole range of documentaries, many of which looked familiar to me. I ended up picking ‘SUPER SIZE ME’, which I’m sure I’ve heard of or seen the poster for somewhere. It follows the journey of director and lead actor, Morgan Spurlock, as he challenges himself to eat nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. Over the course of a month, he has Maccas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and must supersize any meal if the option is presented to him – that is, if the McDonalds employee asks if he wants to supersize it, he has to say yes. Supersizing is basically the next step up after large – and in the United States, where a size small is two cups worth, even the large option is ridiculous (so you can imagine how crazy the supersize is!).
It was an entertaining film, but as someone who loves Maccas, it was slightly depressing. I’ll certainly be watching my portion sizes moving forward, and am super thankful Australia doesn’t offer supersized options! This fact, and the age of the film (it was released in 2004!), makes it a little irrelevant to your average 22-year-old Australian, but it was informative and interesting nevertheless.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone, and picking a genre I wouldn’t usually, resulted in some great finds. Resisting the urge to rewatch a film or series that you know you like can be tough, but you may just stumble upon something new and exciting! I found all four of these documentaries interesting, and they certainly passed the time, and isn’t that all we’re asking of our favourite streaming services right now? I challenge you to use this extra time in self-isolation to go beyond your streaming norms, and watch something a little different. The documentaries on this list are a good place to start!