Peacock is still seeking its foothold in the streaming wars beyond “the place where you can watch The Office.” Comedy is still a safe bet–just look at what they’ve invested in Pete Davidson!—but the NBCUniversal-owned platform is throwing some weight behind its nonfiction slate with the announcement of “DocFest,” a six-week event of new documentaries. Between September 14 and October 19, one new Peacock Original will drop every Wednesday. This includes both feature-length films and docuseries, and the broad range of topics on the roster has a little something for everyone.
First, there’s Hell Of A Cruise, which follows the nightmarish journey of the Diamond Princess luxury cruise ship that was struck by coronavirus in January 2020 (featuring “never-before-seen self-shot footage from passengers”). Then there’s Shadowland, a series that explores conspiracy theories and how they’ve affected America and democracy.
Next up is a feature-length exploration of Larry Ray’s abusive brainwashing (previously illuminated in The Cut’s report “Larry Ray and the Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence”), Sex, Lies And The College Cult, featuring interviews from some of Ray’s victims. Also touching on the theme of sex trafficking is the following doc, Prince Andrew: Banished, which “takes a deep dive into the world of privilege, jealousy, desire, and greed” that led to the Duke of York’s public disgrace.
In a totally different lane is I Love You, You Hate Me, “a limited series chronicling the rise and fall of Barney the Dinosaur’s furious backlash.” Finally, there’s the feature-length The Rebellious Life Of Mrs. Rosa Parks, which promises to tell the “full story” about who Parks “truly was,” focusing on her “overlooked accomplishments and the importance of her drive and fight to overcome racial injustices and rampant inequalities.”
In a press release, NBCU’s EVP of Unscripted Content Rod Aissa says, “Peacock continues its commitment to shining a spotlight on real-life stories deserving of a platform. We hope that the launch of DocFest will habituate audiences into coming to Peacock for their weekly fix of quality documentary content presented by some of the industry’s leading creatives.”
Unscripted programming is somewhat the talk of the town after reality-heavy Discovery’s acquisition of Warner Bros. Yet few of the streamers have made a concerted effort to highlight their documentary content in a collective fashion as Peacock is doing here. It seems like a smart way to elevate its reputation, particularly with such diverse offerings that are being presented here. If DocFest continues, it could be a brand new lane for filmmakers in the streaming era.