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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Erin Harrington, Senior Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies, University of Canterbury

The Conversation

June is set to be a month of holding up the mirror to reality, with our experts recommending three new non-fiction watches.

No streaming list is complete without some true crime, so we’ve got the long-awaited second season of The Jinx (which comes nearly a decade after the first). We also look at Netflix’s scandalous Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal, a three-part docuseries that dissects the infamous site designed for people seeking affairs.

Of course, we’d be remiss to not pay attention to the latest Bridgerton offering, which has proven to be equal parts sultry, dramatic and inventive. And if, after all the crime, scandal and heavy petting, you seek some light relief – we’ve got some great options for that too.

There’s no shortage of captivating storytelling on hand, so dive in!

The Jinx season two


Season one of the gripping American true crime documentary The Jinx (2015) culminated in its subject, enigmatic millionaire Robert Durst, seemingly confessing his role in the murders of his first wife, his best friend and his neighbour when he thought Director Andrew Jarecki’s microphones weren’t rolling.

Nine years on, the second season is just as compelling, although its remit is wider. We follow the fallout from the first season, the launch of a new investigation into the murder of Durst’s friend, Susan Berman, in 2000, and ultimately a new trial. Jarecki and producer Marc Smerling have impressive access. They interview the victims’ families, journalists, the prosecution, some of Durst’s most loyal longtime friends and even his defence team, all while acknowledging their own roles as participants.

They also draw on decades’ worth of archival material, tastefully staged reenactments and candid prison phone calls that do much to undermine Durst and his closest supporters’ credibility. The show ultimately builds an unsettling picture of how Durst used his wealth and charisma to attract a messy network of people who were willing to enable and protect him at the expense of victims and their families – some of whom have waited more than 40 years for justice.

Even those who know what’s coming will find this captivating, illuminating viewing.

– Erin Harrington

The Beach Boys


Disney’s documentary The Beach Boys feels like catching a wave through the iconic band’s storied past. From their humble beginnings in a garage in the 1960s to their mid-70s revival, the documentary highlights some touching moments and celebrates many a sunny success.

However, unlike a surfer riding the crest, we don’t get to witness those defining wipeouts. Rather, the production seems to avoid delving into the darker, more complex aspects of the band’s history. I couldn’t help but notice the absence of member Brian Wilson, who is portrayed largely through archival footage. This year, the death of Wilson’s wife (and subsequent declining health) led to him being placed under a conservatorship. With this in mind, his omission takes on a bittersweet tone.

Ultimately, The Beach Boys misses an opportunity to embrace all the bumps and pivots in the band’s illustrious career. And this is a shame since their story has always been about celebrating life despite its hardships.

That said, the documentary is enjoyable, and it serves as a great entry point for those yet to ride the ups and downs of the band’s career. So grab your board and dive in!

– Jadey O’Regan

Read more:
New Disney documentary The Beach Boys tells the iconic band’s story – but not the whole story

Bridgerton season three (part one)


As someone raised on BBC’s North and South and Pride and Prejudice, I was convinced Bridgerton wasn’t my cup of tea. However, curiosity caught me during a COVID-induced moment of weakness: I binged it all and added season three’s dates to my calendar.

Bridgerton’s seduction lies in creative world-building, extravagant visuals and gripping social tensions. Heaped servings of lustful fervour don’t hurt either. I shock myself by saying these elements are well executed because of, and not in spite of, a gleeful lack of historical accuracy.

We see the inimitable Lady Featherington (Polly Walker) grill her married daughters about sex, to which a gormless Phillipa cheerily asks, “inserts himself where?” Elsewhere, the Queen wears a gasp-worthy mechanical wig, one smutty scene in a carriage is set to a (genuinely) stirring string rendition of a Pitbull song, and Cressida Cowper’s satellite-like sleeves are big enough to transmit the show itself.

Bridgerton’s inventiveness is balanced by genuine onscreen chemistry. Our friends-to-lovers couple, Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), orbit one another beautifully. There is true tension via an alternative suitor, along with some tender self-discovery.

All is heightened by the suspicion these fledgling foundations will shake in part two. It is escapist storytelling at its most charming.

– Marina Deller

Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal


Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal is a recent three-part docuseries that delves into the history of an infamous dating website that guaranteed anonymity for individuals seeking extramarital affairs. It spans the startup of the online service soon after the dot-com boom, the impact of a massive data breach in 2015 and the stories of those affected.

With elements we’ve come to expect of Netflix’s storytelling style, the docuseries presents nail-biting narratives and cliffhangers typical of a true crime documentary set in the digital age. Interviews are expertly conducted, providing valuable insights from key individuals involved – although some responsible parties are notably absent.

One intriguing aspect of the plot is the self-righteous hackers known as the The Impact Team, whose identities remain unknown to law enforcement to this day. They broke through Ashley Madison’s paltry cybersecurity defences, outing millions of users and publicly spilling the tea on the company and its duplicitous CEO, Noel Biderman.

What I discovered watching this docuseries is trust means little when it comes to infidelity. Many associated with the website learned this lesson the hard way and have only restored their reputations by coming clean. The debacle serves as a cautionary tale: if you build relationships on deceit, don’t expect them to last.

– Phoebe Hart

Hacks season three


At the time of writing, eight episodes of Hacks’ third season are currently available on Stan. Critics and fans of the show, myself included, had their misgivings upon hearing there would be a third season – given how neatly all the storylines had concluded at the end of season two. Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) had a successful comedy special, where she took a humorous look at her life’s trauma and fired her comedy writing assistant, Ava (Hannah Einbinder), so she would pursue bigger and better opportunities.

I am so thankful for this third season, however, because it’s the strongest one yet. The writing is a lot tighter and the jokes richer. The season arc focuses on the friendship between Deborah and Ava where, on her break from her esteemed comedy writing gig for a late-night talk show, Ava assists Deborah in securing a late-night hosting gig of her own.

The season smartly focuses on this friendship, whereas season two featured extensive distractions from several subplots with the supporting cast, which ultimately felt like just that: distractions. The focus on Deborah’s aspirations for the top hosting gig provides a poignant commentary on ageing and the “boys’ club” nature of comedy.

– Stuart Richards

Read more:
Psychological drama, wilderness reality and everyone’s favourite dog: the best of streaming this May

The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Carriage romps, good vibrations and a web of lies: what we’re streaming in June –