The Most Hated Man on the Internet (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Most Hated Man on the Internet:

Yeah, I’d hate him, too.

Quick synopsis:

The story of Hunter Moore, who ran a revenge porn site.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Hunter Moore called himself a “professional life ruiner.” Edgy, bro.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Hunter got away with posting other people’s nudes because they were submitted to him and no laws governed what he could do after that.

My Take on The Most Hated Man on the Internet:

I should point out that I was alive during the 2010s when this all went down, and I knew nothing about it. Apparently, I was not cool or maybe just not scummy enough to be part of it. Ah, regrets.

Anyway, Hunter Moore is a terrible person. He was on the internet and created a site which morphed into a place where he posted other people nude along with their information so they can be easily tracked down. When people begged him to take them down because they never wanted their naughty bits exposed, he generally laughed at them. Literally.

The documentary chronicles his rise and (thank God) fall from his perch. It focuses on a few brave victims who put themselves on camera and well, there are some people whose motives are a little less clear. I won’t cast aspersions, but some people give interviews that seem less than genuine.

Verdict:

It’s a good watch. Go for it. Watch it here!

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The Deep End (Hulu)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Deep End:

True narcissism is when you do a documentary and don’t realize you look like a psycho.

Quick synopsis:

A look into the cult of Teal Swan.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Teal Swan’s YouTube page has over 1.25 million followers.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

She claims she has clairvoyance, clairsentience, and clairaudience. I don’t know what those last two are.

My Take on The Deep End:

There seems to be a rash of documentaries and shows on people or businesses where the subject takes part in them, and they should NOT be doing so. It is a special kind of narcissism to believe you will come off as sympathetic no matter what happens. This show is a perfect example.

Teal Swan is a guru. Or maybe cult leader, depending on who you ask. You probably have never heard of her unless you listened to the great Gizmodo podcast on her like I did. Swan continually talks to documentarians, and she keeps looking worse and worse. This might be the most abrasive, controlling, and sociopathic portrait of her. She can at times be mesmerizing, but she will quickly do something which makes you wonder why people are drawn to her at all.

Here is the problem with this show. It feels way too slick and produced. Often, scenes will feel very much like a script. However, since I’ve already heard Teal Swan in other media, I can’t be sure because she truly thinks she is always the victim, and she is the single source of truth. If you haven’t heard of her, I highly encourage you to watch it. Even if some scenes seem scripted, it still shows who Teal Swan truly is.

Verdict:

Give it a watch. Watch it here!

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Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Keep Sweet:

So gross.

Quick synopsis:

A documentary on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leader, Warren Jeffs.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

So yeah, some people married their moms.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

You will see some wild hairdos in this documentary because there is a list of required hairstyles for the FLDS.

My Take on Keep Sweet:

Everyone knows there are Mormons. An offshoot of the Mormons is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or FLDS. Basically, the FLDS looked at Mormon history and said, “hey, let’s bring back having multiple wives!”

This is, of course, against the law. However, if you hide in the middle of nowhere in Utah or Arizona, you can get away with it for a while. You know, until people start realizing you have adults marrying 14-year-olds. Then someone is going to come for you. Now whether or not the someone coming after you is a member of the FLDS who will help you get away with it is another question entirely.

This documentary covers all that with a focus on the head creep of the FLDS, Warren Jeffs. To say you will not like Warren is an understatement of biblical proportions. The only complaint I have about this show is that there was a lot more to dig into, but there are plenty of books to help you with that. However, if you know nothing about the FLDS, you will find it both riveting and very gross. I really want to stress the gross part.

Verdict:

It’s worth a watch. Watch it here!

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White Hot (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for White Hot:

Abercrombie and Fitch was racist? You don’t say….

Quick synopsis:

The story of when Abercrombie and Fitch became huge and the downfall after.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Abercrombie and Fitch has been around since 1892.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

It actually started out selling clothes for the outdoors not highly sexualized clothes for teenagers.

My Take on White Hot:

This should have been right up my alley. Abercrombie and Fitch during the time of this documentary was my high school and college years. I vividly remember heading to the mall (that’s the place where a lot of stores were centrally located, kids) and thinking AF was just a little…off. Everything seemed a little extra and it seemed weird that they sold clothes, but their models were always half naked.

Well, this documentary dives into how and why AF was the way it was. Basically, you needed to be hot and even store workers would be fired if they weren’t hot enough. Then AF gets sued and the megalomaniacs behind AF react the way you think it would.

The problem with the documentary is it almost never finishes everything it starts. AF took off and made a lot of money out of nowhere after being around for over 100 years. How? You will barely know. Were the models sexually harassed? Probably, but the short amount of screentime means we won’t know. It’s a documentary that needed to have better focus and do some real digging.

Verdict:

It’s a disappointment but if you want some nostalgia, you could choose worse. Watch it here!

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Lincoln (History Channel)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Lincoln:

In case you don’t want to watch the movie.

Quick synopsis:

The life of Abraham Lincoln who you may have heard of before.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Lincoln was a pretty damn good wrestler. Not in a WWE type of way, but actually wrestling dudes in the street. Yes, it used to be a thing.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Lincoln grew up in a one room log cabin. History class usually omits the “one room” part because it raises many questions. Privacy was not a thing back then.

My Take on Lincoln:

I’m not going to belabor the point on this. Lincoln is very well known and there is no need to dive too deeply on this one.

This is a good documentary because it dives deep into Lincoln’s life. I liked episode 1 the best because Lincoln’s early life is often relegated to, “he grew up really poor.” Yes, that is true, but this show goes the extra step to explain what we mean by poor. The relationships with his family are also explored and it is very interesting.

Like the other history documentaries, I do feel it borders on hero worship a bit. He was no saint even if he did saintly things at times. It doesn’t ruin the series, but it is something to keep in mind if you want a balanced view.

Verdict:

A very good and in-depth biography. Watch it here!

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Bad Vegan (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline:

She’s bad because of the crime, not the veganism. Allegedly.

Quick synopsis:

The story of how vegan restaurateur Sarma Melngailis became a fugitive.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Once again, I need to say this. If someone tells you they are a spy or in some sort of black ops, then they are definitely not any of those things.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Melngalis’ restaurant was taking in $7 million a year at its peak. Yes, $7 million for plants.

My Take:

I feel like a lot of this was left out. Ever finish a documentary and think, “I still have a lot of questions.” This is one of those.

It’s a tale old as time. Very successful vegan restaurant owner falls for fake spy-type dude whose story never makes any sense. He slowly takes over her life with promises of… hell I am not even sure. Is it an afterlife?

Sarma Melngailis is actually in the documentary explaining herself. Except, by the end, she still really hadn’t. She taped calls with her conman husband Anthony Strangis and they make no sense. Melngailis often sounds like she already knows Strangis is full of it and challenges him often, but ultimately still goes on the run. It feels like this was all rushed to get out on the airwaves instead of giving this story the deep dive it needed.

Verdict:

It’s a good binge watch but not the best one out there. Watch it here!

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Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Downfall:

Boeing sucks.

Quick synopsis:

The story of how Boeing negligently killed 346 people in two different airplane crashes.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Boeing installed a new system on their aircraft and just…. never told the pilots.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Then Boeing told the pilots what to do and the second plane STILL crashed because the sensors didn’t work right.

My Take on Downfall:

Anyone want to burn down a corporate building? Because I have a suggestion! (Note: Don’t burn down a building.)

Boeing killed 346 people. As the facts above suggest, it was pretty straightforward. They added a new safety feature which ostensibly was supposed to make flying safer. It crashed one plane. Boeing said it was definitely the pilots’ fault. They then finally trained people on the new feature which they didn’t tell anyone about before this. The second plane went down. Boeing still said it was pilot error. Rinse, repeat. However, after the second crash, people started asking questions. Boeing continued to deny, deny and make the bad feelings go away. They were not fully successful, but you also may not feel justice was done, either.

The documentary lays out the story of how Boeing went from a company obsessed with safe, effective products to a money hungry disaster waiting to happen. Then the disaster happened. Twice. This is a very well-done show which will leave you absolutely livid.

Verdict:

Get ready to be angry! The documentary is done well. Unlike Boeing’s quality assurance process. Watch it here!

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The Last Duel (Movie)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Last Duel:

Show up for Damon and Affleck, stay for the historical accuracy and killer duel!

Quick synopsis:

The story of the last trial by combat in France in 1386.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Yes, this is a true story. Yes, people use to fight to the death and whoever won was innocent because God made it that way.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

This is based upon Eric Jager’s book, and it was way more accurate than I expected for Hollywood! This is how you do it, Mel Gibson.

My Take on The Last Duel:

Let me be up front about this. I highly anticipated not liking this movie for a few reasons. First, I read the book way before the movie was even a thing. I am a snob when it comes to the book being better and I will make no apologies for it. Second, I did an email interview with Eric Jager, the author, before the movie came out. (He’s awesome, the proof is here and here.) This meant I would be preprogrammed to viscerally hate anything they did which did not align to Eric’s work.

Well, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, you two did it again. The book deviates in a few ways but nothing major from the historical record. The movie is laid out in a pretty great way considering the subject matter. It is broken up into three parts. Each part aligns to the point of view from the three main characters, Jean de Carrouges, his wife Marguerite, and Jacques Le Gris who was accused of raping Marguerite. This all leads to the eponymous “Last Duel.” I felt telling the story 3 times would get old fast, but I didn’t feel the time at all.

Ben and Matt did it again.

The book was still better, though.

Verdict:

A great movie and much more historically accurate than most. Watch it here!

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The Puppet Master (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Puppet Master:

Spies usually don’t tell you they are spies.

Quick synopsis:

The story of a con man who posed as a British spy and ruins multiple lives in terrible ways.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

If someone tells you they are a spy, they are probably lying.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

One of the people the con man manipulated was a psychologist.

My Take on The Puppet Master:

Robert Hendry-Freegard is very good at brainwashing. There is no other conclusion you can come to by the end of this documentary.

The doc covers multiple stories of how Freegard manipulated numerous people in various situations for long periods of time. In fact, one of his biggest feats is still ongoing as of the time of the doc’s release.

His favorite go-to move is to tell anyone within hearing distance that he is an MI-5 agent and then he takes it from there. He manipulates people into giving him money, clothes, cars, and whatever else that might strike his fancy.

The stories are soul crushingly sad. People literally lose decades of their lives, access to their loved ones, and all of their money to this human trash bag. I hesitate to give away too much as the show is set up to slowly reveal facts which border on unbelievable but are 100% true.

This is a good true crime show but do not expect to feel very good at the end. This is a sad story with a sad ending.

Verdict:

It’s a good watch for true crime lovers. Watch it here!

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The Tinder Swindler (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Tinder Swindler:

Swipe right but trust no one.

Quick synopsis:

The story of a con man who met women through the dating app Tinder and stole a lot of money.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Remember how you watched Tiger King and kept thinking, “there is no way this is real.” Prepare for that feeling again!

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

I was on Tinder before. No, it didn’t go well, but not as bad as it did for the women in this documentary.

My Take on The Tinder Swindler:

Dating is hard. However, it doesn’t mean you need to lose thousands of dollars. Sorry, but that’s on you.

This documentary follows three women as they meet a seemingly amazing (read: rich) guy on the dating app, Tinder. They have a whirlwind romance and then he asks for money. Then head slapping decision making begins.

Let me be clear, victim blaming is a dangerously slippery slope. The scum at the center of this scheme is a bad person who should have bad things happen to him.

That being said, don’t go on a private jet with a guy you just met on a first date to another country. Don’t send him your passport details before even meeting him. Someone ranting about nondescript “enemies” is a huge red flag. Decisions are made which will leave you yelling at the TV. These are bad decisions.

Don’t worry, though. In the end, a hero appears, and she will make you feel better. Fighting fire with fire is an extremely entertaining thing to watch.

Verdict:

I loved every second of this. I bet you will, too. Watch it here!

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