The Five Docos Guaranteed to Make you Smarter

Of a recent survey of 1000 Gen Z kids between the ages of 14-19, more than 80 percent of the next gen trendsetters said that intelligence was more attractive to them than being cool.

That’s great news for the future of this quickly dying planet—that Donald Trump isn’t convinced is round—but bad news for anyone looking to score a right swipe from a Gen Z babe or dude five years from now.

Luckily, we’ve got your back. Here are five documentaries available on Netflix, YouTube and Vimeo guaranteed to make you smarter. In fact, with a combination of commerce, politics, power, human psychology, propaganda, oppression and history, watching these five documentaries is guaranteed to not only make you smarter, but one of the most interesting people at the dinner table. You’ll be cast in a Dos Equis commercial in no time.


This Adam Curtis BBC doco is only six months old and already garnering a massive following as a result of its critical success and deep-cutting look at how big money self-interest over the course of the past 40 years has led the world into a state of disarray. Basically, picture a David Attenborough nature doco but with humans, the modern world, and how and why civilisation as we know it is endangered and quickly becoming extinct. It’s enlightening as fuck. But like that baby lizard trying to run from all those snakes, it’s pretty damn scary, too.

Requiem for the American Dream (Netflix)

Noam Chomsky is one of the greatest philosophers, historians and political activists of our time. And if HyperNormalisation focuses on modern society descending into a heaping turd while the powers that be stand on the sidelines counting their bills and egging us on, then Chomsky’s 2016 doco reveals that this has been the case all along. He argues democracy dating back to its creation has never existed in practice, and that it’s in the rich and powerful’s best interest to cause infighting amongst different races, classes and religions to distract the 99 per cent from the fact the one per cent is pulling the wool over their eyes. And he suggests that today, more so than ever, hope for a better future is non-existent because a brighter future doesn’t exist.

Hitler: A Career

Yeah, yeah. Another Hitler doco. But this one’s different. Not only is it one of the first (1977), but it remains arguably the most insightful and analytical, with hours of actual footage of Hitler over the course of 15 years and his rise to power. It doesn’t focus on WWII or the Holocaust, instead detailing Hitler’s rise to power and his psychological manipulation of a desperate and vulnerable German people. Like the ESPN 30 for 30 OJ Simpson series detailed the atmosphere in the country at the time that led to OJ’s not-guilty verdict, this doco gives you a comprehensive understanding of how and why the Germans were susceptible. And there are spooky similarities to today’s climate with Brexit, Donald Trump, and the rise in support for One Nation.

The Century of the Self

Also by Adam Curtis, the brain behind HyperNormalization, this 2002 BBC series investigates the theories of famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and connects them with the psychological techniques employed by the spin doctors of those in power (See Trump’s PR team) today to manipulate the general population. In his own words, Curtis says, “This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control ‘the dangerous crowd’ in an age of mass democracy.” Also check out another of Curtis’ works, The Trap: What happened to our dreams of freedom.

The 13th (Netflix)

This is one of the biggest docos in the world right now and it’s being pushed hard by Netflix, earning a bunch of awards shows nominations. And rightly so. Featuring cult CNN star Van Jones—who famously coined the term “whitelash” upon the election victory of Donald Trump—The 13th focuses on America’s history of racial inequality, severe police discrimination and how it’s unfairly resulted in the mass incarceration of predominantly black men, at a rate not seen anywhere else in the world. Fucked fact, one-quarter of the world’s entire prison population are locked up in America.

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