Contrary to popular belief, Netflix can be a source of education through its expansive list of docos. And even though it might be more tempting to sit back and binge-watch the new A Series of Unfortunate Events, you could gain something a little more valuable than a Netflix coma through some of these very real documentaries.

Girl Rising (2013)

In short, Girl Rising is both heartbreaking and empowering all at once. It follows the lives of nine enduring girls in developing countries around the world who are confronted with the very worst consequences of their gender. Yet, against impossible odds these incredible and unforgettable girls show us the true value of education and the power to dream. Girl Rising also has voice performances by Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, and Liam Neeson just to name a few.

OUT in the line-up (2014)

This one makes you think mostly because no one really considers homosexuality in the surfing world. Enter David and Thomas, two Aussie and openly gay friends who travel the globe to uncover the taboo of homosexuality in their beloved sport. With eight accolades including the Best Surf Film at the Byron Bay International Film Festival 2014, OUT in the line-up is an eye-opening documentary of the ever-present homophobia and its destructive force on the LGBTQI+ surfing community.

Of Two Minds (2012) 

Confronting, Of Two Minds shows just a snippet of those living with bipolar disease. With every emotion on full throttle, viewers follow the lives of three individuals who cope with it in their own way. Gripping in its raw truth of surviving the extremities of their very best to their very worst days, this documentary achieves a lot. Most poignant however is the openness of each individuals testimony, breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Blackfish (2013)

The trailer is enough to make you feel something whether its frustration, helplessness or utter heartbreak. Blackfish is about the highly publicised life of the late orca, Tilikum, a performing killer whale in captivity at Orlando, Florida’s Seaworld. Inciting hordes of controversy toward his captivity that spanned 33 years leading to what could only be explained as deep psychological trauma, Blackfish forces you to rethink the concept of an animal-based park in this brutal and searing show of reality.

Iris (2015)

And finally to a documentary you didn’t think you’d fall in love with; Iris. In this 83 minute doco, viewers are exposed to the flamboyant life of national treasure, 93-year-old, Iris Apfel. The American fashion icon, business women, interior decorator and all round legend hits us with her pearly wisdom and extraordinary life lessons. Even though its feature photo may make you dismiss Iris as another eccentric figure from the golden Hollywood era, viewers quickly learn just how grounded and brilliant she truly is. More than once, she’ll have you smiling at her inspiring outlook to life.