Documentaries have ruined me

About 15 years ago, I distinctly remember hearing a radio broadcast that was unlike anything I’d heard before.  It wasn’t the usual talk show, news, sports, call-in, top 40 type show.  It was engaging.  It was a well-crafted story, yet non-fictional.  It was refreshing in a landscape of RF wasteland.  It was my “driveway moment” {1}.  It was This American Life.

This American Life, or “TAL”, as I like to abbreviate it, is a radio documentary program.  It’s been on for a very long time now, and just gets better with age.  That first day I heard it, I was hooked.  Around the same time I discovered TAL, I was beginning to get into documentary film as well.  So I was ripe for the brand of storytelling.

So much in fact, that documentaries have begun to take over my life.  My reading habits have shifted from fiction to engaging first-person nonfiction over the past decade.  Seriously.  I have the hardest time staying engaged with novels these days.  I am embarrassed to say that I have many books I’ve put back down after the first chapter because it doesn’t grab me the way an amazing nonfictional work will.

Recently, I have found Netflix to be a really great source of streaming documentary film.  Here are some of the highlights in film in the past several years for me:

  • Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
  • Dear Zachary
  • Crazy Love
  • Mr. Death
  • The Up series
  • Protagonist
  • Collapse
  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston
  • The Staircase
  • My Architect
  • Jesus Camp
  • Spellbound
  • Inside Job
  • The King of Kong

Some really great radio documentaries that I’ve enjoyed following are:

  • This American Life
  • Radio Lab
  • Snap Judgment
  • Hearing Voices
  • 99% Invisible
  • The Moth

Check out TAL’s Favorites section and give a listen.  But I warn you, you might make the same mistake I did and find yourself derelict in an ocean of wonderful nonfiction for the next decade.

Footnotes:

  1. Rather than turning the radio off, you stay in your parked car to hear the radio piece to the end.  Source []

One Reply to “Documentaries have ruined me”

  1. You’ve definitely gotten me hooked on documentaries, sweetie! I look at the list above and realize that I’ve seen or currently listen to at least half of those movies or programs.

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