Best Documentary Series You’ll See on TV This Year (Like ‘McMillion$’)
Life is stranger than fiction. If you want entertainment that will titillate, shock, and floor you all at once, you need to tune in to true stories. Thanks to the rise of streaming services, filmmakers are no longer limited by the two-hour documentary format. Instead, documentary series allow more in-depth investigation and intimate storytelling that gets into the nitty-gritty of some of the strangest situations, people, and phenomena happening in our world today. 2020 is already rolling out a fascinating roster of docuseries, and we’ve handpicked the can’t-miss ones. These are the best documentary series you’ll see on TV this year.
Cover Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for HBO
Prepare your watchlist: TV Shows Returning in 2020 That We Can’t Wait to Binge On
Everyone loved McDonalds’ Monopoly game back in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. It gave us an excuse to stop into the golden arches more often (as if we needed an excuse). But it turns out that the game was rigged and over the course of a decade, there were “almost no legitimate winners.” How did this happen? Well, it’s a case of fraud so complicated it’ll take six episodes of this HBO docuseries to explain.
Dan Schneider is a small-town pharmacist whose son’s opioid addiction and death during a drug deal opened his eyes to the number of Oxycontin prescriptions passing through his pharmacy for young people who didn’t appear to be in severe pain. Streaming on Netflix in four parts, this series shows how an ordinary man can take on Big Pharma and draw national attention to an epidemic while doing so.
Horror film buffs will scream over this docuseries that examines the milieu around “cursed” movies like The Crow, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist, where cast and crew members alike have experienced bizarre tragedies and unexplained catastrophes during filming.
There is no NBA player more iconic than Michael Jordan and no team more beloved than the Chicago Bulls. This 10-part Netflix and ESPN documentary series focuses on both during the 1997-98 season, making sports fans everywhere cheer.
'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein'
Lifetime loves a sexual predator docuseries. On the heels of Surviving R. Kelly comes Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, about the late, notorious sex offender and trafficker who allegedly provided prostitutes (some of them underage) to a laundry list of rich and powerful clients before committing suicide in jail.
If your idea of cheerleading is pretty girls with pom-poms, this Netflix docuseries is going to set you straight. Modern cheerleading is a fiercely competitive and brutally athletic event that is both exhilarating and inspiring to watch. At the center of this six-parter is Navarro College’s red-hot team helmed by tough-as-nails Monica Aldama. Footage shows not only the grueling preparation that goes into a championship but also how sports like cheerleading can provide an escape hatch to young people from broken homes and economic hardship.
And you thought your online dating experiences were bad! In this four-part Showtime docuseries, victims of con man Richard Scott Smith band together to bring the truth to light. Smith has seduced and swindled woman after woman across the U.S. for 20 years. The series exposes the shocking ways these women were scammed and follows a bounty hunter tasked with finding Smith and bringing him to justice.
Photo: Showtime (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
You may be over Hillary Clinton and the 2016 presidential election, but history will not soon forget her. Hulu has a docuseries about the groundbreaking politician in the works that includes an overview of her impressive career, the struggle (and failure) to become the first female president of the United States, and commentary from her family members and staff. Set aside your biases and learn a little something about the woman who netted 2.1 percent more popular votes than her election-winning counterpart.