The three docuseries below all have one thing in common – they each deal with what can happen when there is unchecked power.
First up is the four episodes Showtime docuseries Spector. This series tells the story of Phil Spector’s trial and conviction for the murder of Lana Clarkson. The question from the very beginning is whether or not Spector is guilty. If you look at it strictly from a logical point of view, Spector’s claim that Lana killed herself is ridiculous. The two had met only that evening. She didn’t even know who Phil Spector was. There is no possibility that she just decided on the spur of the moment that she would choose to end her life in a stranger’s house with a driver waiting outside. Spector’s past behavior with guns and his treatment of women all point to someone who was rejected for sex and who had so little respect for human life that he thought nothing of pointing a gun at Lana, sticking the barrel of the gun in her mouth, and pulling the trigger.
There’s more than logic, however, pointing to his guilt. For one, after he shot her, he spent forty-five minutes trying to clean up the crime scene. At no time in that forty-five minutes did he call the police. It was his driver who called, unbeknownst to Spector.
The filmmakers go through Spector’s musical accomplishments, which are noteworthy, but they also give equal treatment to Lana Clarkson. She didn’t deserve what happened to her.
The second can’t miss docuseries is FIFA. This series delves into the corruption scandal at FIFA. It’s especially timely now with the World Cup going on in Qatar, which was susspected of using bribes to get the Worldcup. One question I had throughout was whether or not FIFA President Sepp Blatter was part of the corruption. I kept waiting for the bombshell evidence of Blatter taking or handing out bribes. As it turns out, the only nefarious thing he did was to fire the person he hired to oversee the organization’s ethical standards. He has a level of culpability, but nothing like the dozens of FIFA officials who were later identified. Unfortunately, none of them suffered any consequences.
You can catch this four-part series on Netflix.
This last docuseries is one I inadvertently stumbled upon while channel surfing. It’s called The Vow. This is an HBO series whose first season aired in 2020. I started watching season two and was so enthralled with the story that I had to go back and start with episode one season one.
This docuseries tells the story of NXIVM and it’s founder, Keith Raniere. NXIVM, pronounced Nexium, started as a self-improvement group. It grew into a cult fixated on money, power, and the sexual gratification of Keith Raniere. For all the good that Keith and co-founder Nancy Salzman had in the beginning, helping people overcome personal issues, the cult of personality that developed and the harm that resulted outweighed everything else.
Between season one and season two, there are fifteen episodes. There’s not a single episode that can be considered fluff or filler. This is as suspenseful of a docuseries as you will find. The viewer gets to see the unraveling of NXIVM from the inside out, thanks to the participation of insiders who left the organization and the hundreds of hours of recorded video and audio by long-time member Mark Vicente.
There are many similarities between NXIVM and Scientology. And like Scientology, NXIVM didn’t take kindly to members who bad-mouthed the organization. One person who dared to quit and ask for what they believed was owed them ended up in a multi-year legal battle and over $700,000 in legal fees.
Don’t miss this one.