5 Science and Health Documentaries on Netflix


Areesha Lodhi, Staff Reporter

After being engrossed in the sci-fi world of Stranger Things or the intense drama of The Originals, you may want a break to delve into something that is real and informative, yet, entertaining. With these science and health documentaries, information is presented to you in a way that is light and impactful. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by the information out there or hoping to learn something new, these five picks can definitely be an eye-opener, covering a range of topics from health and medicine to the environment and astronomy. Depending on what you’re interested in learning about today, pick a documentary and begin watching!  

  1.     The Search for Life in Space

Spanning just 45 minutes, this documentary uses the world’s most powerful telescopes to take the audience on a moving journey from diverse habitats on earth, thriving with life to the vast expanses of outer space. The Search for Life in Space aims to make the audience re-examine questions like “how did we get here?” and “are we alone?” Presented by Lisa Kaltenegger, astronomer and associate professor at Cornell University. The documentary also discusses the potential signs of life on other planets and new ways that scientists are searching for them. It also takes a look at astronomer Carl Sagan’s attempt at communicating with extraterrestrial life through a golden record in NASA’s Voyager mission which was launched in 1977. The golden record, called ‘Sounds of Earth,’ contains greetings in fifty languages, music and sounds like the chirping of crickets.

  1.     Bleeding Edge

This 1 hour 39 minute-documentary launches an investigation into the medical device industry. It examines the dark side of five medical devices including pacemakers and hip implants, by uncovering issues like the neurological problems created by orthopedic devices. While numerous factors responsible for the devices’ damages are discussed, the Food and Drug Administration’s role in approving the developments, as well as their concerning clinical testing requirements are zoomed in on.

  1.     Take your pills

Running for 1 hour and 27 minutes, this documentary takes a look into performance-enhancing drugs and their increasing use in the United States. Interviews with people from different walks of life such as college students, working individuals or athletes show how the spread of these drugs has gone far beyond the purpose of dealing with ADHD. By speaking to past and current users of the drug, director Alison Klayman portrays the reason behind this pandemic – a capitalistic world and the pressure it places on people to stay ahead at work and school. Notable interviewees include Eben Britton, former NFL player, as well as experts in the field such as Anjan Chatterjee, chair of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Keith Conners, conductor of the first controlled study for Ritalin – a popular performance-enhancing drug.

  1.     Chasing Coral

This 1 hour and 33 minute-documentary explores the reasons behind the unprecedented rate of coral reef degradation. It captures the living reefs when they are colorful and vibrant, and after bleaching when they are completely pale. the Chasing Coral team aims to “reveal the phenomenon in a powerful way.” The documentary breaks down the biology of corals and presents the reefs as more than just an organism, but rather an essential part of our marine ecosystem. A large contributor to coral bleaching is climate change, and this documentary delves into the consequences of the collapse of coral reefs and how it impacts humans. 

  1. Period. End of Sentence. 

This Academy Award-winning documentary is only 25 minutes long and addresses the taboo against menstruation in the rural Hapur district of India and explores the dynamic between “periods and poverty.” Interviews with numerous women in the village shed light on the issues they faced due to not having access to pads, such as health complications and having to miss school. The documentary also follows how women in the village become empowered when an environmentally friendly sanitary pad machine is installed there. 


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