Explained provides various thorough yet fascinating explanations


I never thought that I would be able to sit through a 15-minute video explaining exclamation marks without getting bored, especially since Netflix won’t add a playback speed option.

With a stare like a zombie’s, my eyes realize that Vox, a news website, has a new show on Netflix called Explained that brings the verb to a whole new level. In fact, they managed to hook me on everything from cryptocurrency to political correctness in just a short time period. Encapsulating everything you need to know on a focused topic, each enticing eccentric episode ranges from 14 to 20 minutes.

These quick shows with a variety of topics solve every gripe I’ve had with a documentary.

Having a short time frame was what first appealed to me about Explained. Even if a topic is intriguing, a two or three-hour documentary isn’t a plausible option for someone who has to also spend two to three hours trying to understand chemistry.

Another problem I’ve battled while scavenging through Netflix’s documentary options is simply what the documentaries focus on. I want to learn about current issues as much as possible, and Explained narrows in on issues or topics in today’s society. History fascinates me as much as the next person, but I thoroughly enjoyed the in-depth dive on the societal norm of monogamy as explained by Vox. These often unexplored matters bring contemporary awareness to the world around us.

The very first episode tackles the harsh but real topic of the racial wealth gap with precision and accuracy. Easing into the issue, the narrator starts from the beginning of America’s history with race and builds into the modern day problems. Never leaving a gap in knowledge, this episode factually builds blocks of information with powerful delivery. To tap into emotions, something I find necessary in a show, the show switches to a story of racist housing laws in action to make the following facts feel immensely more real. Beyond testimonials, it provided statistics, interviews, and historical videos. This episode is short in length but rich in detail that documentaries verging on three hours can barely cover.

The lack of sugar-coating in this episode carefully combined with definite delivery and impartial facts ensured that I kept watching for the next episode. And then I watched the next. And the next.

Admittedly, I couldn’t stop watching.

I even found myself using this series, an informational one at that, to dodge responsibilities. Even if my calendar screamed of commitments and the hours melted into the night, I made myself a bowl of comforting mashies—mashed potatoes mixed with barbeque, a little sriracha, and doused in salt—and set up a dinner date with my computer. I spent the following 35 minutes devouring the episodes almost as quickly as my meal. I couldn’t get enough, and thankfully, there is a hefty supply of episodes.

As I sat in front of the blinding screen soaking in the knowledge as if it was the sun, I found myself genuinely relishing my minutes of diving head-first into episodes about extraterrestrial life and designing DNA.

Explained has me hooked like a helpless fish. I deeply apologize if I now insert the random facts I’ve learned in casual conversation. Blame it on Vox.