Have you watched an interesting documentary recently? Documentaries used to have the reputation of being boring, but there are now many exciting documentaries produced for cable TV services like Spectrum. Often, these productions can be as entertaining as movies, and they teach us a lot of incredible lessons about the world we live in.
Watching documentaries makes us more knowledgeable; it can change the way we think, and even inspire us to improve our lives and our communities. The following list contains ten of the best documentaries found on cable TV. How many of these have you seen, and which ones would you like to watch next?
1. Leaving Neverland (HBO)
Leaving Neverland is a controversial two-part documentary that resulted in a backlash against Michael Jackson and his legacy. The documentary first premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 25 before being distributed by HBO. It was produced and directed by Dan Reed, a British filmmaker.
Reports of alleged abuse have been revolving around the late Michael Jackson for decades, but this documentary allows two of his accusers and their family to speak about their experiences at Neverland Ranch openly. The strong and persuasive testimony given by two adult survivors of child sexual abuse has been criticized by Michael Jackson’s supporters.
2. Surviving R. Kelly (Lifetime)
Surviving R. Kelly is a six-part docuseries that details R. Kelly’s history of alleged sexual abuse. His victims, mostly women of color, speak in-depth about what they went through. The documentary was released on Lifetime on January 3, 2019, and a second season is expected for 2023. Filmmaker Dream Hampton is the executive producer of the docuseries.
Rumors of abuse have been surrounding the singer and songwriter R. Kelly for a long time, and we can finally hear survivors tell their heartbreaking stories. After the series first aired, R. Kelly was dropped by his record label and charged with ten counts of criminal sexual abuse.
3. The Kingmaker (Showtime)
This documentary film explores the political career of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos and the return to power of her family. The Kingmaker premiered on August 30, 2019, at the Venice Film Festival before being distributed by SHOWTIME. It was written and directed by Laura Greenfield.
While former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos is well-known for her many excesses, this documentary uncovers her sinister efforts to help her son become President of the Philippines. Imelda has the opportunity to tell her side of the story, but the documentary also features opposing viewpoints.
4. Ice on Fire (HBO)
Ice on Fire is an environmental documentary that focuses on the effects of global warming. The documentary was first released on May 22, 2019, at the Cannes Film Festival before being distributed by HBO. It was directed by Leila Conners and produced by a team that includes Leonardo DiCaprio.
The narration explains the devastating consequences of Arctic thaw in a way that is easy to understand. However, the documentary also gives us some hope: new technologies make it possible for us to get rid of carbon and to reverse the effects of global warming.
5. Jane (National Geographic)
This biographical film tells the story of Jane Goodall and how her life’s work revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Jane was released on September 10, 2017, during the Toronto International Film Festival, and it was produced for National Geographic. The documentary was written and directed by Brett Morgen.
Jane Goodall is a primatologist and anthropologist mostly known for living among the chimpanzees to study them in their natural habitat. This documentary focuses on her life and her body of work, along with never-before-seen footage and an inspiring interview with Goodall herself.
6. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (HBO)
This provocative documentary follows the sex abuse and molestation scandal surrounding Larry Nassar, a USA Gymnastics team doctor accused of assaulting more than 250 women. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA, Gymnastics Scandal was released on April 3, 2019, and distributed by HBO. It was directed by Erin Lee Carr.
This documentary features many brave and resilient women speaking out, giving a voice to many of Nassar’s courageous victims. The film leaves us wondering how such a terrible situation persisted for so long before justice was served.
7. I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter (HBO)
This two-part documentary raises questions about technology, mental health, and the tragedy of a death attributed to texting. I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 9, 2019, before being released on HBO. It was directed by Erin Lee Carr and produced by Andrew Rossi.
The documentary film tells the tragic story of the death of Conrad Roy. It also explores the indictment and court case of his girlfriend Michelle Carter, who encouraged him to commit suicide through text messages and phone calls.
8. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (PBS)
This biographical documentary film follows the life story of Hedy Lamarr, a famous actress, and a brilliant inventor. Bombshell: Hedy Lamarr Story premiered on April 23, 2017, at the Tribeca Film Festival before being broadcast on PBS. It was written, directed, and co-edited by Alexandra Dean.
Hedy Lamarr was mostly known for being a beautiful and elegant actress. However, the documentary shows us another side to this Austrian Jewish emigrant, who co-created the technology of frequency hopping. This discovery eventually led to the invention of WiFi and GPS technologies.
9. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (HBO)
This documentary film covers the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood-testing company Theranos. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley premiered on January 24, 2019, at the Sundance Film Festival before being distributed by HBO. It was directed and produced by Alex Gibney.
This documentary tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes, who was once seen as being the next Steve Jobs. It focuses on the rise and fall of her company Theranos, where she promised easy and convenient blood testing labs to investors. Eventually, it was revealed that she had made false and wildly unattainable claims.
10. Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists (HBO)
This nostalgic documentary celebrates print journalism as well as the careers of two well-known newspapermen of the late 20th Century. Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists premiered on November 15, 2018, at the DOC NYC Festival before being released on HBO. It was directed by John Block, Jonathan Alter, and Steve McCarthy.
This documentary focuses on the careers of Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, two prominent reporters, and columnists. The pair worked for the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and other newspapers, sometimes as colleagues and sometimes as competitors. Their work has shaped the way news stories are told, allowing them to become celebrities in their own way.