Open your Netflix app today, and in the row of content that includes the most-watched TV releases in the US, there’s one commonality that should jump out at you immediately. Many of the biggest TV series on the streamer at the moment are, in fact, documentary series — like How to Become a Mob Boss, a darkly satirical six-episode guide to becoming a gangster narrated by Peter Dinklage that’s #2 in the US today.
True crime and nature docuseries dominate the rest of the genre’s titles that you’ll find among the platform’s US Top 10 today. 2023 has felt like a particularly standout year when it comes to new Netflix documentaries — a year that’s seen the release of documentaries that have challenged us to live better lives (Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones), angered us (Take Care of Maya, Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street), and given us a better appreciation of the world and the people around us (Emergency: NYC, Our Planet).
As for the Netflix documentary series that are among the most popular right now, we’ll take a closer look at those below.
In the same vein as Netflix’s previously released How to Become a Cult Leader (also narrated by Dinklage), this docuseries, per the streamer, “guides you through this darkly satirical how-to guide that explores the rise and fall of history’s most notorious mob bosses — from Al Capone to Pablo Escobar — and their tactics for success.”
In this eye-opening three-episode documentary series (the #3 Netflix show in the US today), the focus is on a group of people who decided to turn to the internet to try and find the love of their lives. Enter Jeff and Shaleia, two leaders of something called “Twin Flames Universe,” an entity with a simple mission — it offers online classes that guarantee you’ll connect with the partner you’re destined to be with.
Per Netflix: “From the Emmy-nominated filmmaking team behind Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult comes Escaping Twin Flames, a three-part documentary series that pulls back the veil on Twin Flames Universe, a controversial online community that preys on people looking for love. With exclusive access to former members, the series reveals the horrifying stories of coercion and exploitation surrounding Twin Flames Universe — from encouraging stalking behavior to manipulating gender identities.”
As for this next Netflix documentary series (#8 in the US today) — did you know that there are 20 million species on planet Earth today? As massive as that number might sound, though, Life on Our Planet is all about the ones that are no longer around. The 99% of Earth’s inhabitants that now belong to the past. In partnership with Industrial Light & Magic, this is the story of the rise and fall of now-extinct creatures, which is part of the overall and breathtaking story of life on our planet.
In this Netflix true-crime docuseries that’s #9 in the US today, viewers are introduced to the story of Derek and Nancy Haysom, a couple who were killed in their Virginia home in 1985. Investigative scrutiny turns to the couple’s daughter Elizabeth and her boyfriend Jens Soering, who weren’t suspects at first and you flee to England after their murders and live under assumed names. Both were arrested in 1986.
Finally, this next three-part documentary series (#10 in the US today) explores the mystery surrounding Sydney, Australia’s Luna Park tragedy that resulted in seven lives lost in 1979. According to various accounts, a poor firefighting response, as well as inadequate staffing, caused the fire to totally devastate the train, which is believed to have been built in 1931. The cause of the fire was at one time or another blamed on electrical failure as well as arson.