The innovative documentary series Explained breaks down common human traits, institutions, social activities, and political movements. Each topic represents an element of daily life that we might think we know but will likely find surprising in their complexity.
Music is one of the constants of human existence. Humans seem predisposed to recognizing rhythm and melody. The first episode of the series explores the ingredients of human biology that make this recognition possible, and sheds light on a rare condition that limits our ability to interpret musicality as anything more than white noise.
The current water crisis is the subject of the next episode as the filmmakers explore how it's distributed, the factors that are leading to its shortage in the poorest regions of the world, and the steps that must be taken to preserve the precious resource without denying it to those who need it most.
Other social concerns are featured in future episodes, including the troubling gender pay gap and the widening wealth disparages among minorities. Another installment takes a deep dive into the history of the stock market, how it operates, and whether it's truly a reliable barometer of economic vitality.
The filmmakers take these complicated issues and make them easily digestible through clearly articulated narration, instructive footage and visual demonstrations, and a panel of interview subjects who are considered the preeminent experts in their fields.
Then there's the episode that focuses on the exclamation mark. Modern-day copy editors are instructed to utilize it sparingly, yet literature from the time of Shakespeare reveled in its liberal use. What are the circumstances throughout time that have determined how its regulated, and where might we take the punctuation in the future as we continue to adapt to the abbreviated language of texting.
Even subjects like these which might seem superficial are presented in a surprisingly scholarly and engrossing manner. An episode on the game of cricket also falls in this category. What was once considered an athletic endeavor for the elite has gradually achieved acceptance and appreciation from the mainstream.
Produced by Netflix in association with Vox, Explained entertains and informs across a diverse range of subjects.