Ten Cringe-Worthy, Binge-Worthy Netflix Documentaries

Invoking the binge-worthy magic.EXPAND
Invoking the binge-worthy magic.
Teague Bohlen

Don’t let the 70-degree weather fool you: Winter isn’t over. Oh, enjoy your shorts-and-tank-top days while you can, for sure. Take the dog for a walk, check out all the shades of browns in the parks, put those boots away and break out the sneakers. But chances are good that there will come a night or a weekend when winter reminds us here in Denver that it’s not dead yet. And there will come a reckoning.

Fortunately, all you need to do to survive that reckoning is to fire up the Netflix queue and check out some of the stuff — all currently available to stream — that you’ve been missing while you were outside gallivanting in the weird winter (and early spring!) warmth.

1. Holy Hell
There are a lot of cult documentaries on Netflix, but this one has it all: the inside scoop from a former devotee, a cult leader with a hidden past and an abusive and weirdly enthralling present, links to the world of gay porn and fanatic spiritualism, and that curious ability in all of us to sometimes be willfully blind to the very things that are right in front of us. All of that and some seriously spectacular eyelashes — which were clearly the source of the cult leader’s hypnotic power.

2. Men in Rubber Masks
Just the visuals from this movie are worth the price of admission. Watching these “living dolls” dress themselves in latex skins and go through their lives is fascinating — and sort of horrifying, if only in the strictly optic sense. But the real star of the show has to be the young kid who inherited the latex-skin business from his late father who had started it to serve (and profit from) this small-scale obsession for men who want to transition and become women, up to and including skin-deep.

3. Frank and Cindy
This documentary was so influential for its time that it was actually made into a 2015 indie film starring Renee Russo and Oliver Platt as the titular characters. But the original, in all its real-world glory, is still the more effective of the two. Frank is the alcoholic former member of the one-hit-wonder ’80s band OXO (You’ve probably heard that one hit, “Whirly Girl,” even if you don’t remember it by name). Cindy is the OXO groupie that married him for the fame that proved to be fleeting. Fast-forward twenty-plus years, add a documentary-filmmaker son, and it’s pure jaw-dropping magic.

4. A Brony Tale (2014)
The Brony phenomenon has been pretty well documented, and because that initial burst of “What-the-hell?” media attention has somewhat faded, now is the perfect time to enjoy this examination of the men who claim an obsession with My Little Ponies and all its assorted ephemera. It’s a serious and respectful look at a pastime that’s usually afforded neither. Unusual? Sure. But so are the rest of us, right?

5. Love Me (2014)
People have been turning up their noses at the mail-order-bride business for over a century now, but the fact that the industry survives and continues to thrive proves that there’s still an audience for this sort of thing, on both ends of the transactional spectrum. Sometimes funny, often heartbreaking, occasionally outrageous, this look into men navigating the Ukranian marriage-for-hire game says something about the heart, and the difference between what it wants and what it might be willing to settle for.

Read on for more cringe-worthy, binge-worthy docs

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