Wild Wild Country is the latest Netflix original to take the world by storm. The six-part documentary by directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way follows Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian Guru who rose to prominence in the 1970s, his followers, and their quest to set up a utopian community in the heart of Oregon.
After moving to Oregon in the 1980s, Bhagwan’s followers built a fully-functioning city including a dam, an airport, and their own electricity station near the sleepy town of Antelope. The locals and their new neighbors soon clashed, leading to conflict that escalated into a national scandal and tested the tolerance for the separation of church and state.
Before Wild Wild Country came out last week, most people had never heard of Bhagwan and his followers or of the incident in Oregon. So why exactly are people going crazy over this crazy sex cult documentary?
Without giving too much away, we’ve come up with five possible reasons why Wild Wild Country is so popular.
Watch the trailer below and then dive right in.
1. It’s shot in a true crime format
Let’s be real, since Making a Murderer came out everyone has been firmly on the true crime bandwagon. Wild Wild Country, while not exactly a true crime thriller in the sense of Steven Avery’s story or The People vs O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, carefully builds the suspense by portraying both sides in as neutral a stance as possible.
The suspenseful true-crime structure jumps straight into it and allows the viewer to feel immersed in the progression of the cult before it hits its climax in the later episodes. Sprinkle in actual people that were directly affected by the cult and the emotions conveyed will win over even the staunchest of critics.
2. Everyone loves a good cult (especially a “sex cult”)
Documentaries about Scientology and other cults generally tend to please audiences because cults are scary, exclusive, and still somewhat shrouded in mystery.
Although there are plenty of stories about what it’s like to be a member, the general public has more than likely never had direct contact with a cult or anyone in one. This sense of mystery and the relatively unexplored world of cults will have viewers glued to their seat for the entirety of the six episodes.
Add to that the free-love aspect of Bhagwan’s cult and you’ve got a recipe for success because a cult is one thing but a free-love cult that meditates by getting naked, screaming, and starting a moshpit is on a whole other level.
3. The vast amount of original footage
What makes Wild Wild Country so gripping is the fact that the Way brothers have unearthed a vast amount of original and unseen footage that adds to the authenticity of the project, allowing the audience to really understand what went on back then.
In addition, the incredible amount of former members that were willing to speak so candidly with the show about what they experienced all those years ago adds a level of substance not many documentaries can match.
4. It’s new and untold
As mentioned previously, cults excite people and make for good content. But somehow most of everything we’ve been fed through TV, movies, and books are rehashed stories about the same old cults.
We know about Jonestown, the Mansons, and Scientology because there are countless books and documentaries about those cults. Somehow, somewhere down the line, Bhagwan and his followers were forgotten.
So, while we still enjoy the mainstream cult classics and can’t wait to watch Leonardo di Caprio and Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s next film about Manson, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, we’re pleasantly surprised at being offered something new.
5. The movement still exists today
Unlike the Mansons and other cults, the Osho movement, as it is now known as, is still alive and well 28 years after its founder’s death. It now exists as a much tamer version of the violent and manipulating cult it used to be, however, its members still refuse to accept the findings of Wild Wild Country.
According to The Guardian, the Osho Times, the movement’s official organ, claims that “this was a US government conspiracy, from the White House on down, aimed at thwarting Osho’s vision of a community based on conscious living.”
What do you think? Is Wild Wild Country worthy of the praise? Is it on your watch list? Let us know in the comments.
Next, check out everything that’s coming to and leaving Netflix in April here.