Add These Non-Consumer Shows & Movies to Your Netflix Queue & DVR

by Katy on March 11, 2014 · 24 comments

Non-Consumer Netflix

If you have streaming Netflix, it can be hard to not get overwhelmed by the thousands upon thousands of options. Yes, their fancy algorithm shows you a manageable number of viewing options, but sometimes it’s nice to get a nudge in the right direction.

Here are few Netflix shows, movies and documentaries that I feel complement the Non-Consumer Advocate:

The Joneses

“In this smart drama about the dark side of a material world, it’s impossible to keep up with the Joneses, a suburban family with good looks, fancy cars, a sprawling estate and… a shocking secret the neighbors would never guess.”

Park Avenue: Money, Power and The American Dream

“Documentarian Alex Gibney focuses on the gap between rich and poor by examining New York’s Park Avenue, home to America’s highest concentration of billionaires. Meanwhile, down the street, South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the U.S.”

The Queen of Versailles

“Meet the Siegels, glitterati who made a fortune in the time-share business, only to see it crumble in the 2008 financial collapse. The site of their rise and almost-fall is their home (America’s largest), a gaudy replica of the Palace of Versailles.”

30 Days, from filmmaker Morgan Spurlock

This appears to to have vanished from Netflix, but it’s so good that I’d keep an eye out for it to reappear. The Minimum Wage episode is a must watch; and Working in a Coal Mine and Off The Grid are excellent and thought provoking as well.

“An unscripted, documentary-style program where an individual is inserted into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion or profession for 30 days.”

There are also a number of documentaries about income inequality and the influence of the Koch brothers that are so depressing looking that I can’t even stand the thought of watching them. (I gotta be able to get out of bed each morning.)

I also have cable, (generally a frugal no-no, but my husband and son have an apparent need to watch international soccer games, and my husband bikes to work to offset the cost. <– Defensive much, Katy?) Anyway, since I do have cable TV, I take full advantage of all the great shows that complement my non-consumer interests. You can watch full episodes of most of these shows online if you don’t have cable.

American Pickers 

Mike and Frank travel the country poking around in barns and outbuildings searching out “rusty gold.” The property owners are always treated respectfully and there’s actually a bit of historical backstory given to the stuff they pick for resale. (The History Channel.)

Thrift Hunters

A new show where two guys rifle through various southwestern thrift shops to find items to resell on eBay. I like this show, as I feel it helps to hone my eye for what items actually do well on eBay. (Spike TV.)

Rehab Addict

Nicole Curtis rehabs houses in Minneapolis and Detroit that would otherwise be due for the wrecking ball. She is fiercely protective of her mission to save old houses, and is very creative about reusing old materials and other people’s discards. Do not underestimate this cute little blonde. (HGTV and The DIY Network.)

Beachfront Bargain Hunt — Funny story. Although this HGTV show showcases wealthy couples buying beachfront property, my initial thought when I saw the name of the show was that it was about people finding cool stuff washed up on the shore or that beachgoers had left behind. Sadly, such was not the case, although I would totally watch the hell out of a show like that!

Note that I did not include Extreme Cheapskates, as that show strives to gross you out rather than educate.

Are there any movie, TV show or documentary that you feel dovetails nicely with non-consumerism? Please share your favorites in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie March 11, 2014 at 5:53 am

The switch from cable to Netflix and Hulu was an instant 60% drop in our monthly bills and I have had zero remorse. In fact, I wish we’d done it sooner.

P.S. I’m having some measure of success with the lettuce stumps; you may have just gotten a loser lettuce. If you take another go, try added a bit of fertilizer to the water (a drop or two) and see if that helps!


Diane March 11, 2014 at 6:09 am

I don’t have Netflix or cable. I watch all my TV shows online and movies as well. I saw all the Academy Award films before the Oscars without paying a cent. I feel like I really get my money’s worth from my monthly internet bill.


Robert Wall March 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

Diane, where do you see films like “Gravity” and “12 Years A Slave” online for free?

Or do you mean you saw the Academy Award pre-shows (with the people arriving and such)?


Jess March 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I’m going to go with, illegal downloading . . .


Diane March 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I just googled watch 12 Years a Slave free online and then asked my son about the site before I watched the film. I did not download or register, just clicked on the movie itself to stream. But, be forewarned, some of the free movie sites can give your computer a bad virus. That’s why I depend on my son’s advice.


Jill March 12, 2014 at 6:09 am

I guarantee you that what you saw was pirated material. Perhaps not an ‘illegal download’ per se, but not kosher by any stretch of the imagination. I am of the opinion that it’s better to pay a dollar for a Redbox or wait for it to be on Netflix than to risk a) computer viruses or b) possible piracy prosecution.


Beth March 16, 2014 at 5:11 am

Or get the DVD from the library for free.

Why do something risky and ethically wrong when there are cheap and free alternatives?

Frugal Nurse March 11, 2014 at 6:25 am

“Happy” – A documentary that travels to different cities and cultures around the world to find out what makes people happy. Hint: It’s not wealth and consumer goods!


Katy March 11, 2014 at 7:18 am

I started that documentary once and it didn’t grab me. Maybe I need to give it another chance.



Susan March 11, 2014 at 7:53 am

Penny Pinchers is a Korean movie with English subtitles available on Netflix. A woman teaches a man how to be thrifty (but she has ulterior motives). Some of her methods for saving money are unethical, but it does illustrate how lots of small things can really add up to a lot of savings.


Carla March 11, 2014 at 8:04 am

I’ve been watching TEDx Life Hacks, and have really enjoyed them. There’s various, and one on power postures really grabbed me – about the tremendous impact of doing a power posture for 2 minutes before something big changes and improves our confidence -, as well as one on memory and etc. I do believe that happiness is well linked with frugality and cultivating a good state being is central to that. Frugality is about embracing what you are and loving what you have instead of hating what you don’t have and it is grounded on well-being.


Maggie March 11, 2014 at 9:00 am

Not exactly non-consumer-y, but we’ve been plowing through all the Star Treks. I suppose they can be considered non-consumer television, since in one of the movies Picard says something about how they’ve stopped using money and realized there are other, more important things!


Colean March 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

I ADORE Rehab Addict! I also really enjoyed 30 days. I’m sad it’s not on netflix any more. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes and would be interested in watching more.

Also not related, I stuck a romaine end in a pot of soil and it’s doing crazy well! I did slice off a sliver from the bottom so it had a fresh “root” end. And it really really likes water. Try it again!


Cindi March 11, 2014 at 11:56 am

Rehab Addict is one of my favorite shows!
And my husbands too! But I think we watch it for different reasons 😉


Ruthie March 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I totally think “Call of the Midwife” fits on here! Set in the 50s, young nurse midwives living in a convent in a poor area of London. There is a lot of social commentary on haves vs have-nots but it is also just an amazing show. 🙂


Trish March 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I adore that show!


marie March 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

Call of the midwife is wonderful. Hulu has another comedy called Miranda that features one of the midwifes.
I also loved Land Girls, though there was only one season of it.
I really miss seeing Doc Martin, that is my all-time favorite. Hulu hasn’t updated it for awhile 🙁


Cheryl March 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for the tips. I started watching Thrift Hunters online tonight. It’s a really fun show, but I have to wonder if it is all staged. I did some ebay searches for the items in the episodes, and none of them were even selling. I have always been amazed at your ability to pick out a treasure in the aisles of Goodwill. Wish I had the same eye!


Sloan March 12, 2014 at 7:40 am

Oh, my husband and I loved 30 Days! They were fascinating. I’m sad they’re not on Netflix anymore. My newest addiction is Scandal, but that is very much consumery. I’ve been wanting to watch Rehab Addict. This may be the push I need to actually stop and watch it.


CanadianKate March 12, 2014 at 7:46 am

Just a note from a non-US Netflix user – only Queen of Versailles is available to me (and I went and watched it at an independent movie house), the rest are/were part of US Netflix and not available outside of the US. I even have to click on a disclaimer each time I bring up Netflix saying I’ll abide to the terms of use which disallows me from ‘tunnelling’ into the US (changing my IP address so that it looks like my computer is in the US.) If my computer is in the US (i.e. when we travel) we can see what you see, but as soon as I’m outside of the US, I’m limited to whatever is available in Canada. The same is true for UK users.

I find Netflix is great if you want to watch tv or movies and let it choose for you. Not once has it had a specific movie/series, that I’ve gone to watch.

In Canada, Doc Martin was pulled days after Series 5 went up on the system (so I waited ages and got the dvd from the library.) So that’s another downside – it will pull a show whenever it wants to, without any warning.

I don’t pay for this service (my dh pays for it from his allowance) and I wouldn’t because I find it far too frustrating. Again, if you are willing to partake of what it feeds you, that’s great but this is not Video On Demand because any time I’ve asked to see anything on Netflix, it has not been there.


CanadianKate March 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

Another complaint about Netflix pulling things:

In Canada there is a website (there’s a US version too.) This website used to warn us when things were expiring but for over a year, that section says the following:

“Unfortunately, Netflix has decided to stop supplying the expiration dates of movies because they’re “inaccurate as a result of frequent, often last minute, changes”. This sucks. Personally, I’d rather have faulty expiration dates than nothing at all, but this is the world we live in now. We’ll just have to find the strength to go on.”

Since I was watching a series that Netflix pushed me into (and I found engaging) and then they ripped it away from me after only a few days, I have decided to find the strength to go on by ignoring Netflix and vehemently warning all those who are considering it to its downsides.


Cynthia March 12, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Manufactured Landscapes on Hulu.
Documentary from 2006.
“Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing.”
Also included are some interviews with workers about their working and living conditions if I am remembering correctly.


Shannon B March 13, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Just watched a documentary called Our Daily Bread (from the library). Very stark startling film about commercial farming food production.


Shannon March 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm

The Minimum Wage episode of 30 Days was filmed in my town of Columbus, OH! It was very cool to recognize so many things in it.

Speaking of Morgan Spurlock, he also made the movie POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. It’s about product placement and marketing in TV shows. Entertaining yet informative.


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