Culture

Documentaries

Yashi Compares

Yashi is undertaking a double degree in International Relations/ Environmental Studies and hails from Western Sydney. Her column is like a Yelp review for things that aren’t restaurants and instead of useful information, it’s incoherent rambling for 800 words and she doesn’t even get promoted to ‘Top Contributor’ status.

On most nights before turning in, my partner and I will attempt to watch one short episode of a TV series to wind down for the night. It’s a little reward for, in his case being, and in my case attempting to be, productive. After countless nights facing the same issue, here is basically how every conversation goes:

Partner: Bed?

Me: Agreed.

P: Netflix?

M: Agreed.

P: What do you feel like watching?

M: I’ll know when I see it.

P: Um ok. How about ‘Because you watched The Chefs Table … British TV shows? Goofy TV shows? Maybe something in Oddballs & Outcasts?’

M: I don’t know, but now I’m confused and tired so I’m going to bed.

Sometimes, to give the illusion we’re actually getting somewhere, I’ll throw in a ‘oh, I’ve heard that’s really good’ or an ‘I’m not feeling like it tonight, but we definitely need to watch that at some point’. On special occasions, I like to sprinkle in some ‘okay let’s put that on our shortlist and if we can’t find anything better, we’ll start on that’, knowing full well that we will never ‘start’ on anything.

Many weeks ago, in my pursuit to find a half decent show to watch before bed, I decided to undertake a research project that, unbeknownst to me, would eventually lead to the next stage of human evolution. With a determination to procrastinate beyond all those before me, I have found the genre that stands out among the rest.  

My friends, the future of bedtime show watching lies not in goofy mockumentaries (no shade Parks & Rec, you still my all time fave), but in full fledged, honest to God, documentaries.

Get your jammies on, cocoon yourself in the warmth of a Big W duvet, and forget everything you thought you knew about going to bed. I am about to share with you the two of the greatest documentaries to grace this Earth.

Number two: Chef’s Table

From the streets of New York to the southern-most provinces of South Korea, Chef’s Table showcases leaders of the world gastronomy scene. These chefs push the boundaries of what ‘good’ food should be, what it should look like, where it should come from, and why we should consume it.

The team behind the show is phenomenal. They not only capture the artistry of the food, but the electricity within the restaurant kitchen, and the creative energy of the star chef. Somehow, they weave it into such a captivating story – it makes me not want to eat food that hasn’t had an hour long documentary made about it. The actual cinematography is also fantastic. I have never seen food in such high definition, and I have eyeballs.

Most episodes follow the same story arch, which can get quite repetitive if you binge watch the series, but also you shouldn’t do that: show some self-restraint.

My personal favourites from each season: In season one, ‘Massimo Bottura’ and ‘Francis Mallman’, in season two: ‘Alex Atala’ and ‘Ana Ros’, and in season three: ‘Jeong Kwan’ and ‘Virgilio Martinez’.

Number one: Life Off Grid

This is a film that documents the successes and challenges of living completely off the grid. By harnessing renewable energy and utilising local natural resources, hundreds of Canadian citizens have managed to completely disconnect themselves from the national grid and live close to 100 per cent self-sufficient lives.

There’s a man that’s so guilt ridden about ‘frivolously’ wasting his stored energy on watching television for one night of the week, he rides an exercise bike in his house to grind flour at the same time. How did that sentence even come into existence? I don’t have the answers for you, but I can tell you that this man is real and he actually does that. It’s been documented and it’s glorious.

As one woman describes it as a way of living that guarantees you ‘your own home rather than a mortgage’. Her house is made of tyres. Another interviewee’s house in the far reaches of British Columbia is made entirely of Cob – a clay, sand, water and straw mixture – that cost him around $1000. So, essentially, if you refrain from eating just under 350 avocadoes, you’ve got yourself a house.

Also, Canada, you are beautiful. Like, wow. Holy moly. I don’t know why people waste their money on the United States.

Other documentaries that take my fancy

This isn’t a particularly extensive list so some honourable mentions include Planet Earth, most ‘Louis from the BBC’ films, and of course, Grand Designs UK (especially the revisited series). Kevin McLoud is a hunk and anyone that says otherwise is a liar and shouldn’t be trusted.

Enjoy watching dear friends, I hope I have opened your eyes to a world outside of sitcoms and British period drama.