Many of you who know me will know that I love watching documentaries and actually want to make documentaries for a career. Lately, I have become a little obsessed with watching Louis Theroux documentaries and thought it would be a good idea to talk about a few of my favourite documentaries. The majority of these are on Netflix so I would recommend watching as many as you can.
- The Most Hated Family in America
This documentary was aired on BBC Two in 2007 and focuses on the family at the core of the Westboro Baptist Church. The church believe that the US government is immoral due to its tolerance of homosexuality and often protest funerals of US military killed in action. Many of them display picket signs with text saying things like “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. This documentary angered me more than any other that I can think of. I honestly do not understand how a family could be so deluded and simply awful to human beings with the same rights. The documentary received 19% of the viewership between 9pm and 10pm, beating BBC One. In 2011, a follow-up documentary was aired due to a young member leaving the church.
- Drinking to Oblivion
This is one of Louis Theroux’s most recent documentaries as it was aired in April 2016. The documentary has a much more solemn feel to it whilst tackling a more serious topic. The show follows patients of the liver unit at King’s College Hospital in South London. The first person we meet is Stuart, whose stomach is being drained of 10 litres of waste after years of non-stop drinking. The most heart-wrenching patient to watch was Joe Walker – a 32-year-old alcoholic who was drinking himself to death. However, he has since reunited with friends and family and has been sober for a whole year.
- America’s Medicated Kids
This documentary was televised on BBC Two in 2010. The documentary follows one of America’s leading children’s psychiatric treatment centres, in Pennsylvania. Louis Theroux investigates the effects of putting children diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorders on prescription medication and the impact that medicating the child has on the family. This made an interesting watch as I personally disagree with medicating children for depression and anxiety but you will have to watch it to form your own opinions.
- Extreme Love: Dementia
This was televised by the BBC in 2012. Louis Theroux spent time at Beatitudes, a residential institution for those with dementia in Phoenix, Arizona. This was particularly difficult to watch as Louis Theroux meets people who are trying to keep relationships alive with loved one with dementia as their disease progresses. Dementia is a growing problem and it is important that people become more aware of it and the effects that it has on the sufferer as well as their friends and families. There was one woman who was 49-years-old and she had just been diagnosed with dementia. This was definitely the saddest story to watch as she had a young daughter and the doctors predicted that in two years time she would not be able to recognise her family. I would really recommend watching this as it is eye-opening and gives an insight on living with dementia.
- My Scientology Movie
When I volunteered at Sheffield Documentary Festival, this film was being viewed and Louis Theroux was supposed to do a Q&A but didn’t show up – sad times. My Scientology Movie was released in 2015 and takes an unconventional approach to the subject matter, featuring young actors “auditioning” for parts playing high-profile Scientologists. The Church of Scientology responded by putting the filmmakers under surveillance and denouncing the film. Although I am still not entirely sure what Scientology is, this film is extremely eye-opening and allows us to take a look into the nitty gritty of Scientology and what it takes to become a member.
If you’re a fan of Louis Theroux’s documentaries, let me know your favourites.