Weekend Watchlist: Getting real

By The Pitt News Staff

This weekend, it’s nothing but the truth. We’ve got a series of streaming documentary recommendations for you, along with an endorsement of “Dance Moms.” Reality TV shows are essentially documentaries, right?

Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix) // Megan Williams, Staff Writer 

Netflix’s hit documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight” is an infuriating account of one girl’s victimization and one family’s absolute naivete. The Brobergs, a Mormon family, were preyed upon in the 1970s by a man from their church known only as “B.” A child predator, B became obsessed with middle child Jan, abducting her twice throughout her adolescence, and persuaded her parents to not press charges both times. At one point after the first abduction, B even convinced Jan’s parents that one of his therapist-assigned treatments for his obsession with children was to sleep in a locked bedroom with Jan. The documentary, released in 2017, is told through the stories of adult Jan, her sisters and her parents, who disclose they simply did not suspect B was molesting Jan. “Abducted in Plain Sight” is one of Netflix’s most compelling true crime documentaries — you will be screaming at your television 20 minutes in.

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (Netflix) // Anna Ligorio, Staff Writer

Yoga — one of the most relaxing and calming forms of exercise and meditation. Surely, in such a serene environment, everything is sunshine and rainbows. Right? Wrong. The Netflix original documentary “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” tells the true story of the malicious man behind one of yoga’s most popular trends, Bikram Yoga. Bikram is a style of intense yoga in a heated room up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit which became immensely popular in the 1970s thanks to its imperious founder, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram is the antithesis of the common perception of a yogi — he commonly degraded his students, called them bitches, insulted them and forcefully put his own body on students while they were in complex poses. In addition to being verbally abusive, he sexually assaulted numerous female students — but has never been punished for it. In response to his sexual assault claims, Bikram said to CNN that he would never need to force sexual encounters because millions of women in the world “would simply volunteer.” This documentary highlights the fact that even in spaces of intended serenity and meditation, abusers can act without consequence. If you want to challenge your preconceived idea of yoga or want to find out how Bikram has evaded punishment for his crimes to this day, “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” is a must-watch.

Rise of Superheroes (Amazon Prime) // Diana Velasquez, Staff Writer

According to Martin Scorcese, the age of superhero movies heralds the death of true cinema, but there is no denying that millions of people around the world enjoy them and have made comic book companies like Marvel titans in the media industry. For those fanatics whose rooms are plastered in comic book posters, myself included, “Rise of Superheroes” documents the breakthrough of superheroes onto the big screen.

Writers, artists and actors famous in the industry weigh in on the tidal wave of superhero adaptations that comes to take over Hollywood complete with brightly colored spandex. Starting with early screen favorites like the 1960s “Batman” TV series and the iconic “Superman” (1978) starring Christopher Reeves, this documentary follows the production of these films in chronological order. The ’80s and ’90s are chock full of Batman and his various incarnations good and bad — George Clooney batnipples anyone? — and with 2008 comes the first installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “Iron Man.” In addition to record-breaking box office behemoths, the film focuses on smaller comic-based films like “Sin City” and “A History of Violence.” Though it’s aimed towards comic book fans, anyone interested in film will enjoy this documentary. The rise of these movies’ popularity is no accident, and they’re not going away anytime soon.

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (Netflix) // Simon Sweeney, Staff Writer

One of popular music’s most acclaimed drummers, Neil Peart of the Canadian progressive rock legends known as Rush, passed away on Jan. 7. I am, to the chagrin of my poor mother –– who once drove an unfathomably annoying 14-year-old me the whole 307 miles separating Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to see them on what we now know to be their final tour –– a Rush diehard. Fortunately for anyone who was inspired to look into Rush as the remembrances of Peart poured in, there’s “Beyond the Lighted Stage.” The documentary, which was directed by Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn and released in 2010, is a wonderful tribute to a band that has meant a great deal to a relatively small base of extremely dedicated fans. Celebrities from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett to Jack Black to Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters tell their stories of struggling to learn Rush songs on guitar or drums as teenagers, and fans talk about their emotional connections to the music and the men. The band members themselves also give a real look into their humor and artistry. There’s no better way to look back fondly on Peart and Rush, other than maybe jamming out to “Moving Pictures” for the 2,000th time in your life –– maybe that’s just me –– than sitting down for an hour and a half of “Beyond the Lighted Stage.”

Dance Moms (Hulu, Lifetime) // Mary Rose O’Donnell, Contributing Editor

Lifetime’s hit reality show “Dance Moms” follows a group of young dancers and their feisty and drama-filled mothers at the Pittsburgh-based Abby Lee Dance Company, which is run by no-nonsense dance teacher Abby Lee Miller. The premise of the show is simple — each week the junior elite team heads out to a new competition and must learn a new group dance and different solos — but the drama is intense. Who will get the solo? Probably Maddie Ziegler. Who will get yelled at the most this week? Probably Chloe Lukasiak if you are watching seasons one through four or now-children’s-sensation Jojo Siwa if you are watching season 5. “Dance Moms” is a wild peek into the crazy world that is competitive dance that you do not want to miss out on.