As autumn and winter get closer with the passing of every day, the dark nights mean more people will be staying in and hunkering down on the sofa in front of the television.
And while binging on dramas, comedies and sci-fi thrillers is great, sometimes you need to watch something that makes you think, makes you look at the world differently and ultimately doesn’t make you feel like a complete slob for being on the sofa for hours on end.
Enter Mr Louis Theroux and his brilliant documentaries, 70 of which just got added to BBC iPlayer.
Watching his documentaries is the televisual equivalent of reading a newspaper or a good book, you somehow feel better about yourself, despite the fact you were just watching TV for ages.
Of course, you could binge-watch the news, but that’s just depressing. I tried it once, got up to the 1950s but then someone spoiled the ending so I stopped.
Dated television shows have become problematic recently, so the chance to see Louis and his brilliant, unassuming but quietly affecting documentaries is not something to be sniffed at. Though a few of his docs have been on Netflix for some time now, the addition of his shows to iPlayer mean a) you don’t have to pay for them (if you have a TV license) and b) well it’s Louis Theroux, you don’t need another reason to watch.
Just check out his series on the Miami Mega Jail or his Law and Disorder episodes to see the kind of situations the documentarian puts himself in.
Or if crime ain’t your bag, there’s his Louis Meets series, with one episode featuring a certain 70s TV personality which has taken on a whole new light since it was originally made.
The fearless film maker is never less than endearing, willingly going ahead with endless weird, wonderful and whacky situations. From visiting brothels to getting liposuction, hanging out with America’s ‘most hated family’ to finding out what makes members of the Ku Klux Klan tick, it’s utterly compelling television.
Even when Louis can’t get close to his desired subjects, he somehow manages to make his documentaries irresistible. Just take Louis, Martin and Michael, in which he tries to secure an interview with Michael Jackson, only to lose out to the journalist Martin Bashir. Instead, Louis ends up on a wild goose chase, talking to Michael’s friends like Uri Gellar and paying $5,000 to interview Michael’s father Joe.
More recently, Louis made the Dark States series, in which he explores the ‘uniquely devastating challenges’ America faces, such as drug use, murder rates and sex trafficking.
In the first episode, Heroin Town, the popular broadcaster and documentary maker examines America’s love affair with prescription painkillers.
In another episode, Louis visits Milwaukee where, in certain areas, the murder rate is around 12 times the national average.
It’s not always easy watching a Louis Theroux documentary, but it’s always enlightening, and now it’s easier than ever.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.