Molly Ivins. (Credit: Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins)

Arts & Entertainment

7 Recent Documentaries With Dallas Ties to Watch While Quarantined

From cheer squads with grit to outspoken billionaires, here are a few features to add to your queue.

Someday there will be dozens of documentaries about the very time we’re living in, but right now you and I both need some entertainment that can deliver a break. I’ve rounded up a few documentaries with Dallas ties to help you do just that.

First, a few things about this list: I focused on stuff you can find readily available on common streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video (I’ve included the services where you’ll find them that require a standard monthly subscription, but keep in mind that most of these are rent-able from other sources). All films were produced fairly recently. I mixed in a few one-off episodes or seasons tucked inside larger series (sue me). I cannot personally vouch for all of them, but I can personally vouch for wanting to watch all of them. I’m making this list as much for me as for you. Let’s stimulate our brains by merely staring at a screen while lounging on a recently Lysol’d couch, together, but separately.

Now, to the docs.

Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins: The great Molly Ivins got the documentary treatment just last year with a feature that explores the life and influence of the former syndicated Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist (she also did a spell at the New York Times). Ivins’ sharp wit, brash humor, and nose for bullshit and corruption is on full display.
Catch it on: Hulu

That Little Ol’ Band From Texas: The band is the bearded, recently city of Dallas-recognized ZZ Top. You’re in for Dusty Hill talking about his Lakewood upbringing in this biopic released a year ago. Hill, via the Lakewood Advocate, delivers this: “I can remember walking down the street where I lived in Dallas, and I was singing because I didn’t want to really look at the surroundings, and I didn’t want to smell the air, and I didn’t want to hear what was going on, so I would sing.”
Catch it on: Netflix

Cheer: This is a good tweet:

Navarro College is right down there in Corsicana, and Cheer follows the school’s national championship squad. Our Kathy Wise’s quick review: “It has hard luck stories. It has grit. It has heart. It has broken noses and concussions and shockingly-difficult-to-apply hair ribbons. It’s as poetic as football and almost as violent, and it’s certainly better than fruitcake.”
Catch it on: Netflix

Last Chance U: Although Season 4 centers, for the second season in a row, on a JUCO program in Kansas, one of its stars is Dallas’ Markiese King—thrice concussed during the season, King, who got looks from big schools but couldn’t go because of academic marks, gets placed with a screaming coach who will be fired by season-end. The series offers a glimpse at King’s South Oak Cliff upbringing. If you missed Kathy’s post about his experience as the “tragic hero of Last Chance U,” un-miss it, and then find time to tuck into your couch for the eight, one-hour eps.
Catch it on: Netflix

The Confession Killer: Another one that brings in the work of the old Dallas Times Herald. Henry Lee Lucas confessed to hundreds of murders in great detail, and then journalists and attorneys started poking holes in his stories. As Netflix tantalizingly puts it: “The Confession Killer, a riveting five-part docuseries, explores how the man once called America’s most prolific serial killer was really a complex figure entangled with a flawed justice system.”
Catch it on: Netflix

“Billionaires” Explained: The tie-in here is nebulous, I realize. But on the second episode of the second season of the series from Netflix and Vox, Mark Cuban plays a key role in explaining the worldwide rise in billionaires, of which, unsurprisingly, the Mavs owner is one of the most media-exposed. The episode—the series, for that matter—is quite interesting, and Cuban delivers a line that’s all Dallas: “What’s the worst thing about being a billionaire?” he says with a little twinkle in his eye. “Nothing.”
Catch it on: Netflix

Sex, Drugs, Design: Warriors of the Discotheque: Not necessarily a new doc here, but one recently picked up by a mainstream service. Warriors of the Discoteque takes us inside the psychedelic days of the Starck Club in the 1980s, where MDMA ran wild and rock stars came by for drinks.
Catch it on: Prime Video

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