5 best new Netflix documentaries right now

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Netflix has really stepped up its documentary game lately. While the streaming service has had plenty of popular docuseries like 13th and My Octopus Teacher in the past, Netflix has been cranking out hit after hit so far this year. 

Right now, you can find a veritable treasure trove of great documentaries on Netflix that cover a diverse range of topics, from deep dives into the life and times of celebrities like David Beckham and Pamela Anderson to literal deep dives into the ocean with the daring freedivers who venture into the abyss without any air or equipment. So whether you're in the mood for a captivating history lesson or celebrity profile, there's something on the streaming giant for everyone.

Below, we've put together a list of what we believe are the best Netflix documentaries right now.


David Beckham not only stands as one of the most famous soccer players in history but also as a global icon who left an indelible mark on popular culture. There was a while there in the early 2000s when you couldn't open a newspaper or magazine without seeing his face. 

But Netflix's latest docuseries delves deeper than the headlines, charting his meteoric rise from working-class obscurity in south London to his debut at Manchester United, six years as captain of the England squad and his journey to becoming half of one of the biggest celebrity couples in contemporary pop culture. It's all narrated with insight from Becks himself as well as his closest friends and family. This captivating biographical documentary is a must-see for Man Utd fans, and anybody who took a photo of Beckham to the barber shop as a kid.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%
4 (~70 minutes each)
Watch it now on Netflix

Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul

As an elder millennial, I totally missed the Juul hype the first time around. My familiarity consisted of half-remembered scary headlines about kids vaping in schools and whatever the hell popcorn lung is. So when Netflix's new docuseries Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul a shot popped up on my recommendations, I figured it'd be something mildly interesting to put on in the background while I unpacked from a recent move. 

Instead, I sat through all four episodes in an afternoon, glued to the drama and mind-boggling business decisions that led to what I now realize was Rise of Big Tobacco 2: Electric Boogaloo. This docuseries traces with painstaking detail all the players involved in the explosive rise (and catastrophic downfall) of the electric cigarette that took Silicon Valley by storm and fueled a public health scare. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: Not yet rated
4 (~45 minutes each)
Watch it now on Netflix

Take Care of Maya

TikTok convinced me to give Take Care of Maya a watch. I saw a video rundown of the shockingly true story behind Netflix's new documentary, and even the cliffnotes version was so horrifically sad I just had to know more. As someone with a lifelong chronic illness, I already knew the American healthcare system was hell to work with. But nothing, and I mean nothing, in my experience compares to the horrors Maya Kowalski and her family have been through. 

The documentary follows the plight of a Florida couple whose daughter, Maya, suffers from a rare and poorly understood chronic illness: complex regional pain syndrome. Desperate to relieve their daughter's debilitating chronic pain, the family took her to Mexico for an experimental ketamine treatment. While the treatment works, years later when Maya's symptoms flair up again and her new medical team reviews her treatment history, the parents find themselves accused of child abuse and denied access to their hospitalized daughter. Things only get more tragic from there as the anguished couple battles authorities for custody. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
1 hour 44 minutes
Watch it now on Netflix

The Deepest Breath

If you have thalassophobia (i.e. fear of deep water), you'll definitely want to skip this one. The Deepest Breath follows Italian freediver Alessia Zecchini who dives to extreme depths with no equipment, no oxygen tanks, nothing except the air in her lungs and a prayer. With the help of safety diver Stephen Keenan, she's on a quest to break a world record in freediving. 

Directed by Laura McGann, whose previous work includes a documentary about female roller derby skaters in Ireland, the movie premiered to widespread acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Equal parts beautiful and terrifying footage of the ocean accompanies a compelling story driven by twists, tension, and hubris that make for a thrilling watch. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes
Watch it now on Netflix

Pamela, a Love Story

Hulu's limited series Pam & Tommy was the subject of plenty of critical acclaim for its dramatized version of the story of Pamela Anderson's life. Anderson herself, however, has publicly disavowed the show, claiming it was made without her input. In Netflix's Pamela: A Love Story, it's now her time to set the record straight. 

Pamela: A Love Story follows her early successes and rise to fame including her take on being in the media spotlight for elements of her life she would prefer didn't make headlines. With never-before-seen-footage, journals, and revelations about Pamela Anderson that might put her life in a new light for audiences, it stands as one of the best documentaries on the streaming giant.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Runtime: 1 hour 52 minutes
Watch it now on Netflix

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.