Louis Theroux

10 Best Episodes of Louis Theroux

The documentary work of British-American journalist Louis Theroux.

Warning: the following content contains spoilers!

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Louis Theroux - S1E5

#1 - The Most Hated Family in America (Season 1 - Episode 5)

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!

The episode was rated 8.30 from 33 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E16

#2 - America's Most Hated Family in Crisis (Season 1 - Episode 16)


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.

The episode was rated 8.24 from 34 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E10

#3 - Law and Disorder in Johannesburg (Season 1 - Episode 10)

Louis Theroux travels to Johannesburg to investigate the increasing amount of crime there. Many citizens are turning to private security companies, with brutal methods, to help protect them and their property.

The episode was rated 8.22 from 23 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E18

#4 - Miami Mega Jail: Part 2 (Season 1 - Episode 18)


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.

The episode was rated 8.17 from 29 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E17

#5 - Miami Mega Jail: Part 1 (Season 1 - Episode 17)

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.

The episode was rated 8.12 from 33 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E21

#6 - Extreme Love: Dementia (Season 1 - Episode 21)


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.

The episode was rated 8.08 from 26 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E19

#7 - America's Most Dangerous Pets (Season 1 - Episode 19)

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.

The episode was rated 8.07 from 27 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E29

#8 - Dark States: Heroin Town (Season 1 - Episode 29)


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.

The episode was rated 8.04 from 25 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E11

#9 - A Place for Paedophiles (Season 1 - Episode 11)

Louis has gained access to Coalinga Mental Hospital in California, which houses more than 500 convicted paedophiles who have been deemed unsafe for release.

The episode was rated 8.00 from 25 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E20

#10 - Extreme Love: Autism (Season 1 - Episode 20)


Louis visits one of the best schools in America for autism. He meets the students and their families to get a glimpse of what life is like for them and to experience the pleasures and the strains of one of the most extraordinary kinds of relationship.

The episode was rated 7.97 from 35 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E4

#11 - Gambling in Las Vegas (Season 1 - Episode 4)

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.

The episode was rated 7.96 from 27 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E26

#12 - Drinking to Oblivion (Season 1 - Episode 26)


Louis visits King’s College Hospital in London where he meets patients suffering with alcohol addiction and the medical staff trying to assist them. He spends time with the patients and their families to discover the effect of the addiction on their lives and loved ones.

The episode was rated 7.88 from 33 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E3

#13 - Louis and the Nazis (Season 1 - Episode 3)

Louis Theroux travels to California to meet the man dubbed "the most dangerous racist in America"; Tom Metzger. Louis meets him, his family and his publicity manager as well as following him to skinhead rallies and on a visit to Mexico.

The episode was rated 7.86 from 44 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E33

#14 - My Scientology Movie (Season 1 - Episode 33)


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...

The episode was rated 7.83 from 18 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E35

#15 - Altered States: Choosing Death (Season 1 - Episode 35)

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.

The episode was rated 7.82 from 11 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E12

#16 - The City Addicted to Crystal Meth (Season 1 - Episode 12)


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.

The episode was rated 7.76 from 25 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E38

#17 - Mothers on the Edge (Season 1 - Episode 38)

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.

The episode was rated 7.75 from 12 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E13

#18 - America's Medicated Kids (Season 1 - Episode 13)


Louis meets parents who have turned to medication to keep their children under control.

The episode was rated 7.74 from 19 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E9

#19 - Law and Disorder in Philadelphia (Season 1 - Episode 9)

Louis Theroux investigates the high crime rates in one of the United States' largest cities, Philadelphia, mainly from the perspective of the local police as well as people affected by, and possibly involved in, crime in the city's low-income neighborhoods.

The episode was rated 7.73 from 26 votes.

Louis Theroux - S1E32

#20 - Talking to Anorexia (Season 1 - Episode 32)


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.

The episode was rated 7.65 from 26 votes.


Last updated: sep 30, 2022

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