I‘m a sucker for a Netflix documentary, and if you are too, you’ll have noticed the latest in the streaming platform’s documentary offerings. Netflix’s (Un)well is an informative series that takes a deep dive into wellness trends – the good sides, and the bad. Each episode tackles a different topic, and speaks to a bunch of people who consider themselves experts in the fields being discussed – and these range from essential oils, to human breast milk, to ayahuasca – or who claim their lives have been changed by them. But what does the show really have to offer in an age where everyone already has an opinion on each of these wellness trends?
The answer is, not much.
Each episode covers a controversial health trend, tackling it from each side. The episodes on tantra and essential oils balance the opinions of those who believe these industries are alarmingly cult-like, with those who swear by them. Episodes on the consumption of human breast milk by adults and weeks-long water fasts provide as many sources explaining the dangers of these trends as they do those who insist the results are life-changing. While their commitment to balanced reporting is commendable, it does leave the viewer feeling just as confused as when they started watching.
Are these wellness strategies as sinister as some claim? Or will our lives actually being changed by bathing in lavender oil twice a week? One comes out of every episode having learned a lot, and yet not being able to form a firm opinion on anything.
In this regard, Netflix’s (Unwell) differs greatly from many of the other documentary series’ they offer. Remember how everyone was up in arms about the flaws in the American justice system after watching Making a Murderer? And you certainly couldn’t come out of watching Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich without nursing a fiery hatred and disgust for the show’s namesake. This ability to fuel passionate discussion around the dinner table is missing in (Un)well. Instead, we’ll all just have to remain as puzzled as we were before.
That being said, the show does emphasise the lack of consensus that surrounds so many of the supposed magic bullets of wellness that people subscribe to today. What works for one person may be extremely dangerous for another. One man’s meaningful spiritual community is another man’s nightmarish cult. It’s a reminder that every wellness trend shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed, but should be approached carefully, and perhaps taken with a bucket of salt (not literally please, because that’s not supposed to be healthy either).
My recommendation for those who are considering this series is to start with the topics you’re interested in rather than watching the episodes in numerical order. Perhaps watch the episodes that deal with wellness treatments you already subscribe to in order to hear the other side of the argument. For example, I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for months now –and loving it – so hearing the opinion that the fasting trend is really just a glorified eating disorder really opened my eyes to a new perspective. The topics that were less relevant to my own life, such as one dealing with athletes drinking human breast milk, were less intriguing to me.
Netflix’s (Un)well is a timely and relevant exploration into the wellness industry that I dare say most of us are, in some way or another, indoctrinated by. It’s a great show for gaining information in a balanced way, bot not very helpful if you’re looking to take sides. At the very least, it makes for some vaguely interesting and educational background noise while you text your crush or do some stretches.
Essential Millennial Rating: 3 out of 5 avocados