Netflix's Anna Nicole Smith documentary just jumped to No. 3 — stream or skip?

Anna Nicole Smith pictured at ex-boyfriend Christian Audigier's Hollywood apartment January 31, 1998 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
(Image credit: Paul Harris/Getty Images)

Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me, Netflix's new celebrity documentary, seemed like an inevitable hit. It's the latest in a trend of films that look to explain the truth behind a famous person whose life story was mostly told by a sensationalist press.

Right now, 'You Don't Know Me' sits at No. 3 on the Netflix Top 10 Movies in the U.S. list, behind the Jennifer Lopez-led Netflix Original The Mother (No. 1) and Seth MacFarlane's Ted (No. 2). According to FlixPatrol, 'You Don't Know Me' took this spot yesterday (May 17), following its arrival the previous day.

But none of this explains if you should hit play and help it combat Ted or not, does it? So, allow me to break down the facts about the movie and what critics and audiences are saying — and why it probably won't get a spot in our list of the best Netflix documentaries list.

What is Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me about?

Model Anna Nicole Smith (born Vickie Lynn Hogan) who lived in both the present and the past, often evoking Marilyn Monroe in her attire, lived her life in the public eye. And the tabloids loved it. 'You Don't Know Me' is framed as a film meant to clear up misconceptions by how her story was told by other people.

The film follows Smith's life from her early years and her decision to have a child at a young age to her tragic death at the age of 39.

Director Ursula Macfarlane's cinematic autopsy uses archival footage that shows how the media mocked Smith from every angle. It also features interviews with her uncle and her bother, as well as members of the press who hounded her to her final days, such as tabloid writers and paparazzi photographers.

Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me reviews — what critics and audiences are saying

Anna Nicole Smith, driving a car, in Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me

(Image credit: Netflix)

Critics and audiences are slightly split on Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me. Its critics Rotten Tomatoes score is a low 40%, but its audience score is a barely-passing 63%.

Calum Marsh, for the New York Times, writes "The solemn excavation of Smith’s life and death ... ultimately brings the movie, despite Macfarlane’s well-meaning efforts, squarely into the territory of what it’s attempting to condemn: lurid voyeurism. ... The movie cannot help but sensationalize these events, even though it relates them in a self-consciously plaintive register rather than a gawking one. Smith deserved better than how she was treated. And she deserves better than this."

Brian Lowry at CNN writes "What 'You Don’t Know Me' doesn’t do particularly well is separate the glossy image from the woman underneath, or explain the more contradictory and confounding aspects of her existence, including her ties to Marshall and later the lawyer Howard Stern."

Anna Nicole Smith smiling in Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me

(Image credit: Netflix)

As for the audience reactions, Robert T rated it 4 out of 5 stars and wrote "It could have done with some trimming and being 1 - 1.5 hours but it was still a fascinating watch of how her tragedy unfolded."

Kris P, however, rated it 1.5 out of 5 stars, and wrote "This documentary added nothing new about to what we already knew about her, before she passed away. Comparing to Love, Pamela - what changed my opinion about the witty, self-aware, likeable, and relateable Pamela Anderson - this doku was a huge flop."

Outlook: Should you watch Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me?

(L, R) Anna Nicole Smith and Hugh Hefner seated at a table, seen in Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me

(Image credit: Netflix)

The answer depends on your level of interest Those who weren't entirely familiar with Ms. Smith's life will probably enjoy the film the most, as its levels of new information don't rise to a significant point. Die-hard fans, however, will probably pause the movie out of boredom, unless they're looking for any crumbs of details about her life they've never heard before.

Either way, I don't think Anna Nicole Smith: You Don't Know Me is a must-see. Instead, it feels more like a movie you'd have on in the background as you fold laundry or do other chores.

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.