Louis Theroux travels to the US to visit a newly opened legal brothel in Nevada, the Wild Horse where he spends time hanging around in the background, getting to know the husband/wife owners and some of the girls, especially Hailey who tries to convince Louis to "party" with her in exchange for interviews.
In 2001, Louis Theroux decides to set out on a journey to interview Michael Jackson. When Michael comes to the UK, Louis approaches Uri Geller but gets turned down. He then finds out that ITV has been granted an interview and Louis sets out for LA to meet a close friend of the Jackson family, promoter and magician Majestik Magnificent, who claims he can set up an interview with Joe Jackson, Michael's father. However nothing seems to go easily for Louis and his target seems further away.
This programme follows Louis investigating the high rollers and those who manage casinos in Vegas. Dr Martha Ogman was one of the main characters of the show and as the interviews with her took place it became evident that she was clearly addicted to gambling. Near the end of the programme it was revealed that in just seven years, she had lost in excess of $4 million. All in all Louis was $4,590 up from $3000 at the end of what he called his "blowout night" playing Baccarat in addition to turning $500 into $700 on his first foray into gambling at the Blackjack tables. As an interesting aside, the money gambled was his own, not part of the production budget.
In The Most Hated Family In America, Louis meets the Phelps family, the people at the heart of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. The Phelps have rabid anti-homosexual beliefs, and often campaign at the funerals of American soldiers. They believe that every tragedy in the world is God's punishment for homosexuality. Subtle they are not. Theroux hangs out with the family in Kansas to find out whether there are other sides to their nature. But with any family who run websites like godhatesfags.com and godhatesamerica.com it's going to be difficult. As ever, Louis sticks manfully to the task, but the Phelps' family commune is not a place to be if you're a free-thinking liberal. Explosive stuff!
Documentary in which Louis Theroux visits Fresno in California's Central Valley to take a look at how crystal meth addiction is affecting the local community. As he infiltrates the town, he experiences the reality of meth abuse, with addicts inviting him into their homes to see them take hit after hit of their favourite drug. He talks to the local police and meets a couple who have sustained their marriage despite a 25-year meth addiction and losing custody of their five children. He also witnesses arrests of families doing meth together, and sees the work being done to combat the destruction caused by the drug.
Louis Theroux journeys to Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, to investigate the nature of law and order in the rapidly expanding city. There he follows the Government-run paramilitary task force KAI (Kick Against Indiscipline), notorious union leader MC, and young gang members known as "Area Boys" who unofficially run neighborhoods for money.
Louis Theroux spends time with a small and very committed subculture of ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. He discovers a group of people who consider it their religious and political obligation to populate some of the most sensitive and disputed areas of the West Bank, especially those with a spiritual significance dating back to the Bible. Throughout his journey, Louis gets close to the people most involved with driving the extreme end of the Jewish settler movement - finding them warm, friendly, humorous, and deeply troubling.
Following up on his 2007 documentary, The Most Hated Family in America, Louis Theroux returns to Topeka, Kansas, for a week-long visit with the Westboro Baptist Church. He again joins the Phelps family on their controversial pickets where they try to antagonise communities with offensive slogans and anti-gay placards. But four years on from Louis's last visit, there are signs of disarray in the Phelps clan. A series of defections of family members has shaken up the church.
In the first episode of this two-part series, Louis spends time in one of the most notorious sections of Miami County Jail: the fifth and sixth floor of 'Main Jail', where many of the most volatile inmates are incarcerated. Held in large cage-like dwellings for up to 24 men, the inmates have developed a strange and violent jail culture. The men - who remain in the cells almost all the time and may only leave for yard time twice a week - live under the sway of a gladiatorial code. They fight each other for food, for status, and often just to pass the endless hours of confinement. Trips to the infirmary are a frequent occurrence as inmates are viciously attacked and beaten, but the guards say they are powerless to end the abuse.
Louis Theroux concludes his exploration into Miami Mega-jail, one of America's largest and most violent of jails, a holding pen for almost 6000 un-convicted inmates. Louis goes deeper into the jail system, meeting an alleged triple murderer facing a possible death sentence. He also follows a group of forty or so younger inmates who have escaped prison by pleading guilty and agreeing to attend a four month military style boot camp. Among them is a 14-year-old boy facing a possible ten year sentence for armed robbery if he can't survive the boot camp's relentless and brutal training and indoctrination programme. Many will drop out and receive prison sentences, but for a handful this will be their second chance at life.
According to some reports, there are now more tigers in captivity in the US than in the wild in the whole of Asia, as well as large numbers of lions, bears and chimpanzees. Travelling to America's heartlands, Louis Theroux spends time with an Oklahoma man who has bred and collected over 150 tigers, visits the woman who privately owns one of America's largest collections of chimpanzees, and finds himself in uncomfortably close contact with a number of big cats and dangerous primates.
Louis travels to Phoenix, Arizona - the capital of dementia care. He spends time at Beatitudes, a residential institution, and also with those looking after loved ones at home to try to understand the struggle of living in a world of encroaching shadows - and of keeping relationships alive in circumstances that can be among the strangest and most challenging imaginable.
In 1997, Louis explored the psychological effects of having sex in public and on film. Now he returns to discover an industry in crisis due to the deluge of free internet porn. He also asks some of the new performers how they cope in a business that offers less money, more insecurity and more stress than ever before.
Louis immerses himself in the world of Ohio's state psychiatric hospitals, meeting patients who have committed crimes - at times horrifically violent - while in the grip of severe mental illness. They have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered by the courts to secure psychiatric facilities to receive the treatment that it is hoped will, one day, lead to their reintegration back into society.
Documentary fans are in for a treat as renowned documentarian Louis Theroux dived into the BBC Archives and selected his favourite documentaries. Each of them had an impact on Louis. They cover a range of styles - some vérité-driven, others told more through interview - but in all of them you see life at its most raw, its most strange and therefore its most human.
Louis visits the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust where he meets some of the estimated one million people living with the long-term effects of a brain injury in the UK. He spends time with those affected by this life-changing condition in order to understand the struggles faced by the individuals and their families. He also meets the staff assisting the patients in learning to walk, talk and eat again as well as come to term with their new life.
In light of the unmasking of Jimmy Savile as a predatory sex offender, and 15 years on from the BBC documentary When Louis Met Jimmy, Louis Theroux sets out to understand how a man who was at the centre of British entertainment and charitable fund-raising for decades was able to get away with a long litany of crimes.
America's love affair with prescription painkillers has led to widespread dependency on opiates. But following a crackdown on their over-prescription, where does this leave the two million Americans who have developed a habit for these high-strength painkillers? With the pills now becoming increasingly expensive and scarce on the black market, vast numbers of Americans have turned to the cheaper and stronger opiate: heroin. The drug now claims more lives in the US than either car accidents or gun crime. And, for the first time in over two decades, life expectancy in the US is declining - largely attributed to the rise in fatal heroin overdoses. In Huntington, West Virginia, Louis Theroux embeds himself in an Appalachian community that is being devastated and stretched to its limits by widespread heroin use. With one in ten babies in the city born dependent on opiates and a fatal overdose rate 13 times the national average, this is the epicentre of the most deadly drug epidemic in US history. Louis spends time with the user community caught in the vice-like grip of drug misuse and follows the emergency services struggling to cope with multiple overdoses each day.
Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, is widely considered to be the number one hub for human trafficking in North America. The US Department of Justice estimates that at least one in five of all the country's victims are trafficked through the city, and most of these people will be forced to work in the sex industry. In Dark States - Trafficking Sex, Louis spends time with American women working in the city's illegal sex industry and explores the often complex dynamic between prostitute and pimp. He discovers a subculture that plays by rules that are morally challenging to most people and seeks to understand what stops these women breaking free. Louis also embeds with law enforcement on undercover operations and meets Vice Division officers tasked with persuading the working women to speak out against their pimps.
Milwaukee is said to be one of the most racially divided and impoverished cities in the US. With spiraling gun crime and homicide rates, this Midwestern city encapsulates America's complex and troubled relationship with guns and the increasing disharmony between African-American communities and the police. In this episode, Louis spends time with the Milwaukee Police Department as they patrol District 5, home to some of the nation's deadliest streets, with a homicide rate over twelve times the national average, and follows the homicide division as they investigate one of the city's many killings. He also embeds with a family who have recently lost a loved one to gun crime, and he meets a local social activist, once a criminal and gang leader herself, who has turned her life around and is coming up with her own solution to the blight of gun crime. On the streets of Milwaukee, Louis discovers a community who is often misunderstood by, and mistrustful of, the police. Arriving at a time of heightened tension between the police and the African-American community due to a recent police shooting, Louis hears from both sides of the debate and uncovers hope in a desperate city.
Anorexia, the pathological fear of eating and gaining weight, is now the most deadly mental illness in the UK, affecting around one in every 250 women at some point in their lives. In recent years, the number of people being admitted to hospital because of their condition has risen dramatically but with many struggling to make a full recovery, being diagnosed with the eating disorder can sometimes mean a life-long battle. In this film, Louis Theroux embeds himself in two of London's biggest adult eating-disorder treatment facilities: St Ann's Hospital and Vincent Square Clinic. He meets women of all ages and at various stages of their illness, accompanying them through an enforced daily routine of scheduled eating, weigh-ins and group therapy sessions. As he spends more time with patients both on and off the wards, he witnesses the dangerous power that anorexia holds over them, leaving some unsure about whether recovery is achievable or even wanted. And as Louis seeks to understand what lies behind this mysterious illness, he finds himself drawn into a complex relationship between the disorder and the person it inhabits.
Louis Theroux is in America to interview members of the Church of Scientology - but they do not want to speak with him. So he meets disaffected former members of the controversial organisation and uncomfortably recreates some extreme experiences. All the while, Louis is being oddly shadowed by people who might be the very folk he wouldn't mind having a word with...
For hundreds of years, romantic relationships in western society have been based on the idea of monogamy: two people, together, for ever. But with nearly half of all US marriages ending in divorce, perhaps the traditional model is no longer fit for purpose. In Love Without Limits, Louis travels to Portland, Oregon, the heart of a movement seeking to rewrite the rulebook on how we conduct intimate relationships and experience family life. Portland, whose city motto is 'Keep Portland Weird', is seen as the US capital of polyamory and ethical non-monogamy, the practice of openly and transparently having multiple relationships that go further than just sex. Louis embeds himself with families who have made the bold decision to open up their relationships in a number of different ways, whether inviting others into existing relationships or allowing partners to seek romance elsewhere. He discovers that for many, more partners means more love and more happiness. But for others, multiple relationships have led to jealousy, upset and broken hearts.
In the US, there are now six states that offer the terminally ill the option of ending their lives with a prescribed cocktail of drugs. Louis heads to California, one of the latest states to adopt this law, where residents can now take home a lethal overdose as long as they are terminally ill, of sound mind and strong enough to administer their own prescribed dose. Here, Louis is invited into the family homes of those who want control over ending their own lives. But he discovers that when you have complete autonomy over your own death, choosing the right time is not such a simple decision. Louis also meets a group who provide information about how to die to those who don't fit the legal criteria. With them, he meets a woman planning to end her life long before what would appear to be her natural time, raising complex moral and legal questions about how much control we should have over our own deaths.
Louis Theroux heads to California, the US adoption capital, where the majority of newborn adoptions are carried out privately, creating a multimillion dollar industry. Agencies, facilitators and lawyers can earn thousands of dollars per baby by matching up pregnant women prepared to give up their newborns with adoptive parents willing to pay up to $50,000 for the privilege. Louis spends time with the birth mothers preparing to hand over their own flesh and blood, uncovering the stories of poverty, addiction and abuse that can push these women into making such a heartbreaking decision. He also meets the adoptive families, paying out huge amounts of money in the hope of being able to raise a child they can't have by natural means - but in a system open to abuse, whether the birth mum hands over the baby hangs in the balance until after the birth.
Louis Theroux heads to American college campuses and comes face-to-face with students whose universities are accusing them of sexual assault. As reports of sexual violence have dramatically increased in recent years, the government has urged US colleges to enforce a stricter code of sexual conduct amongst students. Employing specialist administrators to carry out investigations into alleged misdemeanors, they now have the power to permanently exclude those they deem ‘responsible’. For the victims of sexual assault these new processes, which require less stringent levels of proof than criminal cases, have allowed accusations that might have never been heard in a court of law to be vindicated. But alleged perpetrators believe the attempt to be more vigilant about rape and assault has turned into an overreaction that tramples on due process, and harms innocent people. At the start of this journey, Louis meets a neuroscience major called Saif Khan, who has been accused of raping a fellow student. His University is investigating the claims separately even though Saif has been found not-guilty in a court of law. Though Saif continuously pleads his innocence, Louis is drawn into an increasingly complex world, where separating fact from fiction becomes increasingly challenging. He also meets young women whose claims of sexual assault have previously fallen on deaf ears, who believe that a new approach to handling allegations of sex crimes is not only necessary but long overdue. One such student is Mollie Johnson, whose experience is a powerful reminder that there is now a broader understanding of what sexual assault looks like.
Louis Theroux returns to the UK to spend time in specialist psychiatric units which treat mothers experiencing serious mental illness whilst allowing them to live alongside their babies. Immersing himself on the wards, he meets women who have been admitted with a range of serious conditions - including depression, anxiety and psychosis - often triggered by birth or the strains of motherhood. As he follows the patients and their families both in hospital and recovering back at home, Louis explores what lies behind their recent crisis and discovers the immense challenge in caring for two people in the most vulnerable state of their lives.
Thirteen years since first encountering one of America's most notorious hate groups, award-winning film-maker Louis Theroux makes a long-anticipated return to Kansas to spend time with the Westboro Baptist Church - a hugely-controversial Christian ministry that for years has picketed at military funerals and other high-profile events with deliberately provocative and homophobic placards. Immersing himself in the strange world of Westboro, Louis explores what happens when a hate-group largely populated by one family loses its patriarch.
Since making his television debut on TV Nation in the mid-90s, journalist and film-maker Louis Theroux has become synonymous with documentaries involving subcultures and people on the fringes of society. In the first episode of this career retrospective, Louis looks back at his earliest documentaries and explores how some people’s most fervent beliefs can bring them into conflict with mainstream society. From his Weird Weekends episodes on survivalists and UFOs to his now notorious documentary about the White Aryan Resistance in California (Louis and the Nazis), Louis has always been drawn to those whose beliefs seem unusual, confused or, in some cases, abhorrent. Louis catches up again with some of his previous contributors, including Mike Cain, who he first met in the mid-90s, having moved to the hills of Idaho and armed himself for what he saw as an inevitable war with the federal government. Over 20 years later, his views haven’t changed much – but in Donald Trump, he has a president who finally speaks to him. Louis also tracks down Lamb and Lynx, once members of the white nationalist pop group Prussian Blue. They have since rejected their past and believe their story gives hope that even the most indoctrinated can change their beliefs.
Louis explores how America has managed to take our darkest desires, commodify them and turn them into a saleable product. From his memorable Weird Weekends episodes on porn and rap to films about Las Vegas and the US opioid crisis, this episode explores a very human tendency to jump to the dark side when seeking out pleasure – whether through indulgence, risk-taking or the joy of doing something seen as ‘bad’ or 'wrong’. Louis re-connects with porn-star JJ, who over 20 years ago was just making his way in the adult industry but has since turned his back on that world in favour of a new life in eastern Europe. And Louis catches up once more with Katilia from Heroin Town, whom he last saw hopelessly addicted to drugs, with little sign of turning her life around.
Louis reflects on the criminal justice system in the USA, which has more prisoners than any other country in the world. In documentaries such as Behind Bars and Miami Mega Jail, Louis spent time with hundreds of incarcerated men, discovering a world with its own rules and codes and a system that seemed to be broken. In A Place for Paedophiles, Louis came face to face with those responsible for serious sex crimes against children who were being locked up indefinitely, even after their sentences had been completed. Louis also revisits his documentaries in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, where tensions between the African-American community and the police were already at boiling point, years before the recent killing of George Floyd.
Louis examines how the greatest source of love in our lives – our families – can often be the cause of our deepest pain. In his trilogy of documentaries centred around the Westboro Baptist Church, Louis explores the price the family was paying for its devotion to the distorted vision of its patriarch, Pastor Fred Phelps. With Pastor Phelps now dead, the family has been torn apart – some of its members are still utterly devoted, whilst others have left, forbidden from ever contacting their families again. Louis also reflects on how physical and mental health or forces beyond our own control can threaten to derail our family lives. He catches up with contributors from Trans Kids and A Different Brain to see how life has changed since he saw them last.