8.5
219 votes
Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux

BBC Two 2003

The documentary work of British-American journalist Louis Theroux.

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The 10 Worst Episodes of Louis Theroux

#1 - Miami Mega Jail: Part 1

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Season 2 - Episode 1

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 #1 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#2 - Miami Mega Jail: Part 2

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Season 2 - Episode 2

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 #2 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#3 - Altered States: Love Without Limits

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Season 6 - Episode 1

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.

The episode was rated #3 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#4 - Altered States: Choosing Death

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Season 6 - Episode 2

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 #4 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#5 - Altered States: Take My Baby

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Season 6 - Episode 3

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.

The episode was rated #5 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#6 - Dark States: Heroin Town

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Season 5 - Episode 1

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 #6 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#7 - Dark States: Trafficking Sex

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Season 5 - Episode 2

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.

The episode was rated #7 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#8 - Dark States: Murder in Milwaukee

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Season 5 - Episode 3

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.

The episode was rated #8 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#9 - Autism

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Season 3 - Episode 1

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 #9 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#10 - Dementia

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Season 3 - Episode 2

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 #10 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#11 - LA Stories: City of Dogs
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Season 4 - Episode 1

Los Angeles is home to more than a quarter of a million dogs - from the pampered pooches of Beverley Hills to the pit bull terriers of the projects. Louis Theroux enters the bizarre world of LA's dogs, meeting the characters whose lives revolve around the city's huge canine population. In the toughest neighbourhoods of south LA, he has a terrifying encounter with a 'weaponised' dog, trained to attack on command, and goes on patrol with 'Dogman', whose mission is to rescue some of the thousands of stray and feral pit bulls roaming the streets. At the city's biggest animal shelter, Louis meets the hard-pressed staff, whose heartbreaking job includes euthanizing thousands of unwanted dogs every year. He also encounters the middle-class Americans who adopt some of these delinquent dogs, as well as the colourful dog-training gurus who claim to be able to take the ghetto out of the dog once the dog has been rescued from the streets.

The episode was rated #1 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#12 - LA Stories: Edge of Life
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Season 4 - Episode 2

Louis visits LA's most famous hospital, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in West Hollywood, where he meets patients battling for their lives against serious illnesses. America spends a huge amount on health care and a hefty proportion goes on end of life care, with a wide and expensive array of treatments on offer to those with insurance or who qualify for government funded programmes. Louis talks to patients and their families as they face some of the toughest decisions imaginable - whether to accept death and die in relative comfort, or to gamble on further, possibly painful treatment in the hope that it will cure them or prolong their life. He also talks to the doctors whose job it is to guide people through this traumatic process. Over several months Louis explores the American way of death, which often involves never giving up and keeping faith right to the end.

The episode was rated #2 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#13 - Life on the Edge: Episode Four
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Season 7 - Episode 4

The episode was rated #3 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#14 - My Scientology Movie
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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 #4 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#15 - Altered States: Choosing Death
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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 #5 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#16 - The Night in Question
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Season 1 - Episode 37

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.

The episode was rated #6 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#17 - Surviving America's Most Hated Family
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Season 1 - Episode 39

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.

The episode was rated #7 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#18 - Life on the Edge: Beyond Belief
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Season 1 - Episode 41

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.

The episode was rated #8 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#19 - Life on the Edge: Law and Disorder
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Season 1 - Episode 43

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.

The episode was rated #9 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

#20 - LA Stories: Among the Sex Offenders
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Season 4 - Episode 3

In the final episode of Louis Theroux's LA Stories, Louis spends time in the twilight world of the city's paroled sex offenders, whose crimes have made them pariahs living on the fringes of society. The State of California has some of the toughest regulations anywhere in America controlling sex offenders. On leaving prison they can spend years on parole, tagged and tracked, and a lifetime on an online sex offenders register. Louis spent several months at some of the hostels in Los Angeles where sex offenders live, talking in depth to sex offenders themselves as well as the people charged with monitoring them. The tough rules governing where they can live and who they can see make it hard for registered sex offenders to find work or even housing, and many are forced into homelessness. Meeting these outcasts Louis asks whether these tough rules keep society safer and when, if ever, it is right to give sex offenders a second chance.

The episode was rated #10 Worst episode of Louis Theroux from 0 votes.

Last updated: oct 09, 2020

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