What else to watch?
June 8, 2010 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Louis Theroux's documentaries - both the sillier earlier ones and the recent more solemn ones - are perhaps my very favourite things to watch. What other documentaries / shows might I enjoy?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Keith Allen's style is a little more wacky and angry but you might enjoy this. He also visited Westboro, the whole thing is on youtube so you can get a taste of his style.
posted by fire&wings at 7:09 AM on June 8, 2010

There's a whole subset of American reality television dedicated to offbeat subcultures/people. Most are really trashy and weird in a bad way (Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the other "I have a million kids" shows, all the TLC shows about little people), but some, like Toddlers and Tiaras are pure trainwreck gold (from the Wiki: "The show airs without any narration in order to avoid passing judgment." You'll be passing plenty of judgement yourself, though).

On the less look-at-this-freak side, MTV actually does a good job with their documentary shows about teenage life. 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom are surprisingly sensitive looks at mostly Southern, mostly poor, mostly Christian teenage girls who end up pregnant. True Life can be a little more salacious, but is still often interesting and thought-provoking.

I can't think of any shows with charismatic hosts like Louis other than maybe Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, which isn't a documentary but rather a travel/food show, but you might like it anyway.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2010

Maybe Alex Riley's "Britain's Really Disgusting Food"?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:20 AM on June 8, 2010

Nick Broomfield is the guy who immediately sprang to mind as someone that Theroux was influenced by. You could try "The Leader, the Driver and and the Driver's Wife" where he tries to interview the late Eugene Terreblanche as a good start.

You could also try Jon Ronson - Secret Rulers of the World maybe.
posted by crocomancer at 7:25 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mark Dolan is like a less intelligent Louis Theroux.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2010

Nick Broomfield and Jon Ronson are excellent suggestions.

In a similar but different vein, I've enjoyed Jamie Olivers docu-crusades and the road trips (if you dont mind the cooking demonstration element). Jamie's School Dinners and Jamie's Chef in the first category and Jamie's American Road Trip and Jamie does... in the second.

He got quite a charming way with people that reminds me a lot of Theroux.
posted by Ness at 7:40 AM on June 8, 2010

Oops, left out Jamie's Kitchen - Jamie's Chef was a follow-up to Jamie's Kitchen.
posted by Ness at 7:42 AM on June 8, 2010

You may enjoy the various series that Simon Reeve has made for the BBC. He's not as quirky or knowingly ironic as someone like Theroux, but his programmes are very enjoyable. They're more like regular travel documentaries, where about half of each episode looks at serious issues (conflicts, poverty, environmental stuff) and half looks at human interest and cultural stuff.

Reeve himself is very funny and always has a good rapport with the people he meets.
posted by afx237vi at 7:54 AM on June 8, 2010

Concur with all of the above - Simon Reeve, Ronson, Broomfield and can take or leave Dolan.

Suggest all of the BBC Holidays in the Danger Zone series which include the following :

Holidays in the Axis of Evil (Ben Anderson)
America was Here (Ben Anderson)
Violent Coast (Ben Anderson)
Rivers (Ben Anderson)
Meet the Stans (Simon Reeve)
Places That Dont' Exist (Simon Reeve)

Other than that check these out:

Monsoon Railway
Bombay Railway
and if you are into something closer to the Bear Grylls route try:

Tribe (Bruce Parry)

I've seen all of them and rate them highly (esp PTDE). Sorry for UK bias but sure you can track these down if you live outside the UK.
posted by numberstation at 8:48 AM on June 8, 2010

The work of Les Blank. Whole films can be purchased at the Flower Films Web site. Clips are available on YouTube and this UC Berkeley archive.

He specializes in American sub-cultures and might be best know for his food and music documentaries.

His son is Harrad Blank, the art car artist, btw.

My personal favs: Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers, In Heaven There Is No Beer?, Gap-Toothed Women, God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance, and Always for Pleasure.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:30 AM on June 8, 2010

n-thing Jon Ronson and Nick Broomfield.
Dave Gorman's America Unchained and Danny Wallace's various TV shows would probably be right up your alley although they're slightly more mission-based than Theroux.
posted by minifigs at 10:30 AM on June 8, 2010

Great thread. Agreed on Ronson, some here I don't know, came to recommend The Mark Steel Lectures. Sure, it's not investigative or "reality", but it's entertaining, intelligent, and intellectually straightforward. (More than can sometimes be said for Louis "I wondered if my friends the porn star and the right-wing preacher would hit it off?" Theroux: not that I don't like his show, but sometimes the disingeneous presentation grates.)
posted by galaksit at 3:04 PM on June 8, 2010

You might enjoy Stephen Fry in America.
It does not focus on crazy subcultures so much, so if that is the main thing that you like about Louis' show it might not be what you are looking for, but it is a really fun outsiderish look at American culture.

(Also Stephen Fry is the best person, and I would like him to be my uncle.)
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:33 PM on June 8, 2010

Jonathan Meades is also very offbeat, although his documentary films (from the 1990s) deals with odd places more than he does odd people. Loved the Belgium episode, Double Dutch, and Remember the Future.
posted by col_pogo at 9:18 PM on June 8, 2010

Oops, disingenuous.
posted by galaksit at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2010

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