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‘Waco: American Apocalypse’: 5 Other Netflix Documentaries Involving Cults

By Erica Scassellati,


The new Netflix documentary, Waco: American Apocalypse , follows the 51-day standoff that took place at a Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX. The Branch Davidians are an apocalyptic religious movement led by David Koresh at the time of the standoff. Waco: American Apocalypse isn’t the only show about cults on Netflix.
David Koresh in ‘Waco: American Apocalypse’ | Netflix

The Netflix documentary ‘Sins of Our Mother’ follows a well-known true-crime case

Sins of Our Mother follows the disappearances and murders of Tylee Ryan (16) and J.J. Vallow (7) and the subsequent arrests of Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell. Lori grew up Mormon. This means she was a follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS Church.)

Over time, Lori’s religious beliefs and mental state became increasingly concerning, especially after she met Chad Daybell. The pair were part of an extreme cult-like spinoff sect of the LDS Church, preparing for an apocalypse where only a select few of Jesus’ followers would be saved. Sins of Our Mother is a three-part docuseries streaming only on Netflix.

What does hot yoga have to do with cults? ‘Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator’ has the answers

Next, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator follows the rise and fall of hot yoga founder Bikram Choudhury. The hour and 26-minute-long documentary uncover disturbing revelations about Bikram’s yoga empire. The Daily Beast recounts director Eva Orner’s statement that Bikram’s movement was “nothing short of a cult.”

Orner describes Bikram as a “charismatic leader eager to exploit his environment’s carefully crafted power dynamics to devious ends.” In the last decade, six rape and assault cases were filed in civil court against Bikram, though no criminal charges were ever brought against him.

The Netflix documentary ‘The Family’ ties into American politics

The Netflix documentary miniseries The Family follows a Conservative Christian group known as The Family or The Fellowship. Founded in 1935 by Abraham Vereide as a Bible study group for men, The Family eventually made its way into influencing American politics.

The five-part docuseries is based on author Jeff Sharlet’s writings about the religious group. His books include C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy and The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power . Sharlet also worked as an executive producer on the series.


‘Waco: American Apocalypse’: How the Waco Tragedy Relates to the Oklahoma City Bombing

‘Keep Sweet, Pray, and Obey’ follows an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism

Netflix’s Keep Sweet, Pray, and Obey follows a polygamist offshoot of mainstream Mormonism known as the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). The series explores the nefarious techniques of the cult’s leader Warren Jeffs as he separated his followers from their families and preached total obedience.

Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of several sex crimes. Two of these include the rapes of two of his underage “wives.” Keep Sweet, Pray, and Obey is a four-part docuseries streaming only on Netflix.

‘Wild Wild Country’ takes place in a small Oregon town

Wild Wild Country is a Netflix 6-part docuseries about the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) and his community of followers living in a small Oregon town. The group hoped to establish a self-sustaining utopian community known as Rajneeshpuram. However, creating the commute led to far darker consequences.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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