Attention all documentary lovers! Netflix dropped a new documentary series Jan. 26 called “Dirty Money.” Tackling six stories in its first season, the investigative series focuses on scandals and corruption. Great for the curious and conspiracy theorists alike.
The episodes represent six independent stories. The subjects vary widely, but all raise complex questions about greed in business. Each episode lays out an instance of a big business going corrupt and hurting consumers in their wake.
The series’ executive producer is Alex Gibney, the director of award-winning documentaries such as “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” “Taxi to the Dark Side” and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” Each episode is helmed by a different filmmaker, with the first episode directed by Alex Gibney himself.
The first episode is centered around Volkswagen’s “Clean Diesel” cars. What once seemed like an eco-friendly dream to consumers turned out to be mass deception that possibly made its way to the highest levels of the corporation. The episode brings new evidence to light and points to similar frauds being carried out today around the world, having devastating impacts on the environment.
The second episode talks about the infamous payday loans. It explains how Scott Trucker, a former racecar driver, was able to scam as many as 4.5 million people, all while claiming his business was run by Native Americans to hide it.
Now a notorious meme, Martin Shkreli is the star of “Drug Short.” This episode looks into the greed of big pharmaceuticals, specifically the company Valeant. Focused on driving revenues, the company cut their research departments and aimed to acquire smaller companies and drive up their product prices.
“Cartel Bank” discusses HSBC, a multinational bank and financial services company, and their ties to organized crime groups. Governments have caught them in the act multiple times over the years, but minor fines have done nothing to stop them. Is HSBC too big to fail?
The penultimate episode is the most light hearted. Travelling to the great white north, the installment looks at a multimillion dollar heist of maple syrup. I mean, what else do they have to be greedy over in Canada?
The last episode is a look at the most powerful man in our country: President Donald Trump. The piece discusses Trump’s alluring reputation as a successful businessman, and seeks to see how he built his empire. There are interviews with former Trump University students and producers from “The Apprentice.”
It’s easy to get sucked into these thrilling stories. Each is about an hour long (most of them a little over) and full of juicy details. The series is illuminating and a bit infuriating.
I learned a great deal while watching the series. I was also baffled by how many of the problems discussed are unresolved. While championing the preventative actions taken, the series makes sure to point out the issues that are still at hand and the dangers waiting on the horizon.
So, take a break from binging the horrors of the future in “Black Mirror” and dive in to the horrors that surround us in the present. The strikingly relevant series is sure to leave you asking questions about what can be done and who consumers can trust.