You can now watch these Netflix documentaries for free

You can now watch these Netflix documentaries for free

Explained! Abstract! Knock Down The House!

Learning during the pandemic depends on one thing: access. Several online learning platforms know this, and have rolled out free access during this time: online classes, instructionals, the works. The beauty of this too is it’s all about learning at your own pace — take your time and do it when you feel like it — plus you don’t have to pay. 

Free access is also being given out by Netflix. The streaming giant (and our binge-watch buddy), known for its entertainment catalog, is also a great place for educational content — some of which are now available to watch on the Netflix US YouTube channel, along with educational resources like study guides for everyone’s use. Here are the shows you can now watch for free:


Director Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle In Time) examines the role of race in the American justice system, particularly the unfair mass incarcerations of people of color. The title takes after Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery. 13th was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and has won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards. Watch the full feature here.

Abstract (Season 1)

Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design features design visionaries from different industries, from illustration to footwear design, as they talk about their projects and how design shapes the world and everything in it. Watch the first episode here.

Babies (Select episodes)

We’re far from “where do babies come from?” question now. Babies follows families on their first year of having a new-born (15 babies filmed for over a year!), along with the latest research from the field (36 scientists!). The docuseries divides itself to each milestone of development — love, crawling, first words, sleep, and first steps — and answers how we all begin. Watch the first episode here.

Chasing Coral

What happens when you combine an ad man, camera designers, marine biologists, and their collective love for corals? They invent the first time-lapse camera that can record the entirety of corals getting bleached. It sounds simple enough but Chasing Coral shows how it’s anything but: not when you’re trying to document the tragedy below. Watch the film here.

Explained (Select episodes)

The brainchild of Vox, this explainer (heh) series is an easy deep-dive into a variety of relevant cultural topics and ideas. Supported by interviews with people of authority, the series explores the what, why, how’s of current events and trends across the cultural landscape. Case in point: the Explained episodes available on YouTube range from exclamation points to racial wealth gaps. Watch the first episode here.

Knock Down The House

Four women candidates — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin — challenge powerful incumbents for a seat at the table at the pivotal 2018 race for US Congress. The film focuses on the grassroots campaign these exceptional women have done, and why they want their voices, and those of their communities, to be heard. Knock Down The House makes for a galvanizing watch, and will always be relevant until we elect politicians who are truly for the people. Watch the full feature here.

Our Planet

Our former editor Maine Manalansan writes: “Shot in 4K and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, Our Planet is a nature documentary series that shows the beauty of the natural world and what we can do to protect it from the rapidly changing global climate. According to the documentary, wildlife population decreased by 60 percent in the last 40 years. Unlike us, animals don’t have a choice nor the power to change things, yet they’re bearing the initial brunt of climate change. We’ll feel the effects next, but the good thing is, we are completely capable of taking action.” Watch the first episode here.

Period. End of Sentence.

A recipient of the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject), Period takes place in a rural village outside Delhi, India, where a deeply-rooted stigma of menstruation exists. After decades of not having access to feminine hygiene products, a sanitary pad machine installed in their village empowers the women in their community to manufacture and market their own pads. Watch the short documentary here.

The White Helmets

With the daily airstrikes targeting civilians in Syria, a group of volunteer rescue workers risk their lives saving those caught in the middle of the war. Winning the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject), The White Helmets follow the daily lives of these first responders. Watch the short documentary here.


Zion Clark is a young competitive wrestler. Born without legs, he moved from one foster home to the next, with wrestling only constant thing in his childhood. The documentary short follows Zion as he pursues the sport against all odds, getting his dream — one match at a time. Watch the short documentary here.

Check out the Netflix YouTube channel here.