Netflix has definitely spotted something. They’ve spotted that the people want documentaries. Typically, these come in two formats. The first is a feature-length documentary like The Bleeding Edge with the second being docu-series like Afflicted. Now a new format is set to emerge as news publisher BuzzFeed, team up with Netflix to create an original mini docu-series; Follow This.
What is BuzzFeed’s Follow This All About?
You may be familiar with BuzzFeed as being the modern take on news outlets. BuzzFeed rose to online infamy through quizzes, ‘listicles’ and that damn dress that no one could decide the colour of. While it all sounds fairly light-hearted, Follow This demonstrates BuzzFeed’s coming of age, or perhaps more accurately their audience’s coming of age.
Follow This goes further than simply bringing viewers behind the scenes of BuzzFeed’s biggest stories over the past few years. The docu-series dives deep into sexuality, race, science, internet subcultures, politics and cultural issues which affect society today. Some episodes, like the first on ASMR, lean towards the lighthearted while others like ‘Intersex’ are heavier hitting.
Rather than being big chunks of information to consume, Follow This is a collection of twenty 15-minute episodes. Perhaps Netflix is trying to target people with a short commute or attention span, but I really enjoyed these short episodes. With just a half an hour of watching, you’ll have plenty of fodder to chat about in work the next day and isn’t this why we watch documentaries?
Follow This: What to Expect
To give you a better idea of what to expect from BuzzFeed’s Follow This Netflix series, I’ve watched a few episodes.
The Internet Whisperers
I discovered ASMR myself earlier this year and it’s a weird phenomenon. It stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and simply put, it’s people on YouTube making weird noises or whispering to stimulate a response from the listener. That response is usually goosebumps and the hair standing up on the back of your neck. Check it out with this lady who appears in the docu-series:
BuzzFeed’s Scaachi Koul looks into this phenomenon in the first Follow This episode and even goes looking for an expert to discuss it. Interestingly, the expert points out that ASMR is one of the first times internet users discovered a phenomenon before scientists. Personally, after watching the episode I struggled to separate the sexual and sensual elements of ASMR but some of those in the episode describe how they find these videos therapeutic. You’ll have to watch it yourself to make up your own mind on it.
Another episode with Scaachi Koul, this time looks at the contentious issue of Men’s rights. These are groups of men and, unbelievably, women, who believe the feminist movement is out to destroy the lives of men. There’s an incredible moment where Koul meets a woman who supports men’s rights along who previously called her a see you next Tuesday.
In one of the heavier hitting episodes of Follow This, Juliane Löffler from BuzzFeed Germany speaks with the intersex community. These are people born with two sets of reproductive organs but who have had surgery in their youth to make them a single gender. Löffler meets with people affected, doctors who performed these surgeries and those involved in changing the laws relating to intersex people.
I loved this episode. I’m a bit obsessed with prepper culture as it is but this provided a new insight into the prepper community far beyond the American redneck stereotype. The Black Survivalist episode is led by Bim Adewunmi and as the name suggests, it focuses on black people with an interest in prepping.
I found this episode enjoyable but also rather upsetting as members of the black community describe how they already feel like they are living in a world which needs them to prep for being alone thanks to a government that’s already forgotten them.
Follow This: The Verdict
Follow This gives you bite-sized chunks of knowledge which are genuinely interesting. This show will make leave you brimming with stuff to talk about next time you’re trying to think of something to chat about over lunch.
Follow This is streaming on Netflix from Thursday.
Follow This: Trailer