9 Netflix Documentaries to Watch This Summer

Regular visitors to the #slowchathealth blog will know that I’m a big fan of free professional development and if you are looking for some great documentaries to watch over the summer then you must check out what Netflix has to offer. Here’s a list of 9 documentaries that have a #healthed slant to them that I’m sharing for you to view. I’m not suggesting that you show these in your classroom, although some definitely have content that you might want to view and discuss with your students, depending on their age. I’ve included links to the documentary website (many include great associated resources) if one exists, plus the most pertinent Twitter link related to the title.

What The Health

Billed as the health documentary that health organizations don’t want you to see. The film exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick. What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.


My Transgender Kid

“A sensitively handled documentary” following two transgender seven-year-olds, giving an empathetic insight into the children’s lives, and the hurdles their parents faced in supporting them.  Four times more children have identified as transgender in the past five years, but for anyone who thinks this shift has been encouraged by parents or a more liberal approach to sexuality, Born in the Wrong Body seeks to put that stereotype squarely to bed.


How to Survive a Plague

An Academy Award nominated documentary that includes some great resources on it’s website. This is an award winning story of two coalitions — ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) — whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. We have an infectious diseases specialist visit our classes and she talks about her work with patients living with HIV and AIDS, a job that she has had since the 80’s. Her story itself is fascinating and I look forward to talking to her about my thoughts after watching this film.


The Hunting Ground

This award winning documentary is one that we show our senior students in preparation for their life at college. The statistics are staggering. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted, yet only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and even fewer result in punishment for the perpetrators. The Hunting Ground, claims to be a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses. This documentary is one that many of my students have watched, and some students say that their parents have sat and watched it with them in order to make them more aware of an issue that thankfully is being discussed in the open a lot more than it was a few years ago.



Watch this. A powerful documentary that will stir up many emotions. The film argues that a prison-industrial complex which statistically imprisons black men disproportionately and allows for their disciplinary servitude, has taken advantage of America’s black population and brings into question if this system ultimately acts as a form of modern day slavery. Justin Schleider watched this on my recommendation and wrote this blog post.


The Mask You Live In

From The Representation Project who challenge society’s limiting representations of gender this documentary follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. As a father of sons, and an adviser to a class of junior students, this is essential viewing. Offering empirical evidence of a ‘boy crisis’ this documentary points out gender stereotypes that young males have to regularly confront.


Miss Representation

You can’t be what you can’t see. This documentary explores how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women, selling the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders. Again, this documentary also has a website which includes great resources for the classroom. It’s a shame that a 2011 movie still seems very timely considering recent political and media events.



I’ve added this documentary to the list as it deals with death and dying and that topic has been mentioned a few times in recent #healthed chats on social media. This is another award winning documentary, is only 24 minutes long and looks at doctors, families, and patients as they make gut-wrenching end-of-life decisions.



Recommended on Twitter recently by Shrehan Lynch Cowspiracy investigates animal agriculture, the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. This industry is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. This documentary claims to be inspiring and humorous.


Netflix has so much more to offer in terms of documentaries related to some of our traditional #healthed content, including Forks Over Knives, Fed Up, In Defense of Food and Food Inc. As with all movies, if you show them to your students remember that they are all produced with a certain bias. Encourage your students to view them with a critical eye and to consider counter-arguments in order to become more effective critical consumers.

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10 Free Ways to Develop Professionally Over Spring Break

7 thoughts on “9 Netflix Documentaries to Watch This Summer

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