TV List

14 Best Docuseries of 2019

Updated January 28, 2020
11 min read

Documentaries are a great way to familiarise yourself with the events in the world, contemporary or ancient. While movies give you drama and entertainment, documentaries focus on facts and figures and immaculate research. But sometimes, the stories that they want to tell are too intricate and lengthy to be contained in an hour or two.

And this is where television comes in. It allows a platform to the filmmakers to stretch and mould the story just as they want to. There is no shortage of time and resources, and with the people spending most of their time with TV shows, this is the best time to let documentaries get a taste of that success as well. Here is the list of best docuseries of 2019 that you must watch.

12. Murder for Hire (2019)

Every spy movie has an assassin. A mysterious and dangerous person who is hired to kill the people in the highest ranks, that ones that are the most difficult to kill, and somehow, these assassins find a way to finish the job. In real life too, assassinations of prominent political personalities aren’t an alien idea. Even government agencies send their best to kill heads of criminal and terrorist organizations. But that doesn’t mean that normal people, like the grandma next door, can’t indulge in this practice.

In fact, in past years, contract killings have seen a spike, and it doesn’t have as much to do with famous people as it is with a regular person. If you want to find out more about it, watch the series here.

11. Formula 1: Drive to Survive (2019)

Cars are exciting, right? Comfort and all that is okay, but it is actually the speed that lures most people in. And while we are restrained by speed limits (and for good reason), the true test of speed comes in Formula 1, the one sport that every car lover wants to witness, or better, be a part of.

What excitement must it be for the drivers! But that adrenaline rush doesn’t come without a price. It requires hard work and dedication, just as any other dream job does. It also requires unfaltering attention and, sometimes, sacrifice, which makes way for frustration. If you still think the grass is greener on the other side, then watch this documentary to unveil the harsh truths behind the highly competitive world of racing. Watch it here.

10. Killer Ratings (2019)

“Do what you love and love what you do.” That’s the mantra, right? Don’t pick a profession that you can’t be dedicated to. Because once you commit yourself to it, you’ll have to give it all. But how much of an “all” are we talking about? What should be the limit for someone to be devoted to their job? We can safely assume that until your work doesn’t hurt anyone, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

The moment you start thinking about dipping your toes in the morally grey waters, you should probably stop. But Wallace Souza didn’t believe that. He was a Brazilian television presenter and knew how important good ratings were, for him as well as the network. And he seemed to be good at his job. He would generally report on murders and accidents, and his journalism brought him such recognition that he eventually became a congressman. But then, the truth came out. Who was actually committing the murders that Souza was reporting? You can watch ‘Killer Ratings‘ here.

9. Climate Change- The Facts (2019)

While some asshats will have you believe that climate change is a hoax, you must understand that the threat is real and imminent. The more time we spend fighting with each other about the validity of climate change, the lesser time we will have to counter it and save ourselves. If you want to know what the deal is, why it is such an important thing and how you can help with it, you must watch this documentary. It is presented by David Attenborough, who is a familiar face for the people who binge on nature documentaries. The natural historian provides you with crude facts about where we are going wrong and how we can still rectify our mistakes. You can watch the documentary here.

8. Deadly Cults (2019)

Say the word “cult” and any sane person would be alarmed. People will either be frightened or curious, or appalled or, at best, uninterested. And they have a good reason for this. Cults have rarely done anything to inspire faith or goodwill. A cult member is pictured at best, a deluded or misled person, and at worst, a murderer.

In this documentary, we get to know about the psychology behind joining, or even starting, cults, the rules that define them, and how the cult leaders recruit people. Over the course of four episodes, four crimes committed by various cults are brought under scrutiny. You can watch the series here.

7. The Imagineering Story (2019)

With the arrival of its own streaming service, Disney has found a way to become even more intimate with its audience. Not only does it have its entire collection at the disposal of the viewers, but the Mouse House has also opened its doors to the public by giving them the behind-the-scenes stories.

‘The Imagineering Story’ is one of those gateways, and it takes you on a journey that will change your perspective about Disney. One of the best things that it is known for is its theme parks. Disneyland is on the bucket list of everyone, and a lot of work goes into turning it into a dream. This documentary follows a normal day in the life of the people working for Disney’s research and development wing, and how they come up with the creation and the construction of all the magical theme parks. Watch the series here.

6. The Planets (2019)

There was a time when people believed that Earth was the centre of the universe. But then, we found out about Sun’s gravity and the other planets around us, and the galaxies, and black holes and whatnot. Now, no one really knows where the centre of the universe is, because we don’t even know where the periphery of the universe is, if at all.

So, there is still a “is? Is not?” sort of situation about Earth’s status. But move beyond this question, and there is so much more to discover. We have succeeded in sending unmanned missions to several planets in our solar system, which means we have substantial content to determine the history of our neighbours. ‘The Planets’ takes you on that journey. You can catch the series here.

5. Our Planet (2019)

Narrated by David Attenborough, ‘Our Planet’ is another grand documentary from the makers of ‘Planet Earth’, ‘Frozen Planet’ and ‘The Blue Planet’. Each episode of the series focuses on various habitats all over the world, and how they are been degraded and disrupted by the activities of humans.

The stunning visuals give a glimpse of the majestic form of Nature, and the situation of the animals not just breaks our hearts, but also makes us hate ourselves as humans. The first nature documentary made by Netflix, this is one that you must watch if you want to understand how we are destroying our own planet. You can watch the series here.

4. Leaving Neverland (2019)

Michael Jackson- the king of pop, revered by fans, considered a legend in the music industry, known to be one of the most influential personalities in the world. He has inspired a number of artists, helped build careers, and was known for his philanthropic causes. However, his sparkling career didn’t come without blemishes. Several controversies came to light while he was alive, and the most prominent of them was sexual abuse.

In ‘Leaving Neverland’, we get the first-person accounts of two people who allege that they were Jackson’s victims. If you are a fan of the pop star, it can be a difficult watch, and you might be tempted to call it out as utterly preposterous. Try to go in with an open mind. You can watch the documentary here.

3. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)

All thanks to Netflix’s ‘Mindhunter’, we are obsessed with interviews with serial killers. Why did they do what they did? What led them to commit such heinous crimes? And above all, what do they think of themselves? Do they feel guilty, or do they feel proud? Can they even feel, or are they just good at imitating feelings?

One of the high-profile killers that we didn’t get a chance to see in the show is Ted Bundy. Considering his timeline, he will most likely not be a part of it. Still, that doesn’t mean he is any less interesting, his acts any less horrible, and his psyche any less fascinating. In this documentary, we get to listen to the tapes of the journalist who got all-exclusive access to the murderer and got to study him. You can watch the series here.

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2. The Disappearance of Madeliene McCann (2019)

On a vacation to Portugal, the McCann family is left devastated after 3-year-old Madeliene mysteriously disappears from her room. The case became an international sensation with the Portuguese officials following up on every possible lead, one of which leads them to consider that the parents could actually be a part of this unbelievable case.

The case sees many ups and downs and the McCanns not only have to look for their daughter but also have to fight the system that lays the blame on them. And yet, after so many years, there is nothing substantial to show for. This raises the question: could Madeliene have been saved had the cops actually did their jobs? To find out more about the case, watch the docuseries here.

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1. The Devil Next Door (2019)

Charles Manson might be known, and even feared, for his ability to influence people in a way that would lead them to commit horrible acts. But he was really just an amateur! Ask Hitler. The man brought about one of the biggest genocides in history, and all he had to do was talk up to people in doing what he wanted. But he isn’t entirely responsible for what happened in Nazi Germany.

The people who actually carried out those orders, at grass root levels are equally, if not more, responsible. And what’s worse is that some of these people wouldn’t stop at simply killing thousands of people. They would also torture them, in ways that would make them worse than the Reich they were following in the footsteps of. One of them was Ivan the Terrible, and ‘The Devil Next Door’ tells the story of a man who was accused of being that despicable being. You can watch the series here.

2. Who Killer Little Gregory

Apart from the technical structure of the show, the narrative is also designed in a way that each episode ends in a cliffhanger, to keep you going to the next episode, trying to get to the bottom of who might have killed Gregory Villemin. ‘Who Killed Little Gregory?’ encourages viewers to do their bit of amateur sleuthing, increasing the degree of interactiveness of the show. If you love true crime tales, and fancy yourself somewhat of a detective, you cannot miss this show. Facts and accounts are placed in front of you meticulously, as viewers are met with the impenetrability of the case that has remained unsolved to date.

1. Don’t Fu*k With Cats

Unlike most documentaries that tend to be an exercise in retroactively solving a crime, there is a sense of urgency in the way this docuseries is structured. The docuseries is not afraid to throw out twists, by showing how Magnotta evades the law, by peeling back his online persona and revealing his lies, and most importantly, by giving us an alternate culprit who seems to fit the bill for the crime. In an intense roller-coaster narrative, our hopes are toyed with, as we want to see the killer brought to justice, and just when we feel we are closing in, there seems to be a curveball. Without a doubt, this is the most exhilarating docuseries of 2019.

Read More: Best Documentaries of 2019

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