If you’re a person with a thirst for well produced documentaries, and especially if you’re obsessed with history, Netflix’s new docuseries, History 101, has set a benchmark for exactly what everything in the genre needs to be.
Whether you’re a big fan of documentaries or not, History 101 provides a concise breakdown of several topics that are critical subjects in today’s conversations, and it provides facts in an easy-to-digest format of episodes that are just longer than 20 minutes. It is both suitable for light watching and binging – although, if you do the latter, you may find yourself a little depressed when it’s all over. It literally tells the greatest true stories of all time, just like it promises to.
The subjects and events covered range from the history of fast food and nuclear energy to China’s rise to prominence and the history of oil production in the Middle East. Moving swiftly from the early beginning of historical events to the present, and creating open-ended questions about what lies ahead in the future, History 101 is almost like a set of crib-notes for any dinner table conversation. With both general outlines of issues to interesting facts that even many historical experts may not have picked up over the years, it has everything.
History 101 is also about more than the actual content; it’s about the smooth production. From the grainy black and white pictures of the past to the crisp images that categorise the present, the visual packaging of the content provides a subliminal level of authenticity that makes you feel like you’re genuinely watching the events play out right before your eyes. Not to mention, the narration is both soothing and isn’t your typical monotonous drawl that usually accompanies other productions in the genre – so it doesn’t put you to sleep.
One of the more pleasant factors about the series, as well, is that it’s targeted at audiences from the United Kingdom and doesn’t possess the “Americanised” biases that so often accompany the better produced documentaries that we’re all so used to.
I genuinely find Netflix’s History 101 to be right up there with the best docuseries that Netflix has to offer right now, and it is certainly a direct competitor to the existing benchmark Explained. One might even argue that it’s better.
Essential Millennial rating: 5 out of 5 avocados