Take Care of Maya, which is currently streaming on Netflix, will break your heart. It’s based on a true story that’s so awful there’s no need to use filmmaking tricks – just seeing Maya’s condition and what happened to her family is incredibly powerful and devastatingly sad.
The documentary tells the story of how a young woman with an unusual medical condition was mistreated and how her mother was painted as a monster, which led to terrible consequences.
It’s a hard watch, but shows like these can help us understand why terrible things sometimes happen. And if you’re feeling strong enough, there are several other shows on the world's best streaming service that can help illuminate other tragedies too.
The Good Nurse
Based on the book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder, this biographical crime thriller tells the story of Charles Cullen, who was a registered nurse that worked in hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He is believed to have killed as many as 400 people, often by covertly injecting them with killer doses of medicine.
What makes this drama stand out is that it doesn’t attempt to humanise Cullen, or try to justify what he did. Instead, it’s about Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain), the nurse who begins to suspect him. And while the drama is based on the real story, the creators made a deliberate choice not to fictionalise any of the real victims to avoid re-traumatising their families.
Also based on a book with a similar title – Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery – Lost Girls focuses on the true story of Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan), who became an activist on behalf of missing young female sex workers in Long Island.
As with The Good Nurse, the focus here is not on the killer or on the murders – it’s about the families of the lost girls as well as the battle to get the police to value their lives and see sex workers as people deserving protection and justice.
Brain on Fire
Chloë Grace Moretz delivers an incredible performance portraying New York Port journalist Susannah Cahalan. The film chronicles the true story the up and coming journalist, who begins to hear voices in her head and starts having seizures.
As her condition and her symptoms worsen she faces an ongoing battle with healthcare providers who initially dismiss and misdiagnose her, but a last-minute intervention by a doctor finally helps her pick up the pieces of a shattered life.
The Bleeding Edge
Medical tech is great, right? Maybe not. This terrifying documentary focuses on the lives ruined by five medical innovations including robot surgeries, poisonous prosthetics and poorly tested birth control.
Some of the consequences described here are genuinely horrific so this isn’t one for the squeamish, but as a piece of activist film-making it burns with a quiet and entirely justified rage.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.