Thumbing Through Theroux: The Eyes of The Inspiringly Curious

If somebody asked me which celebrity I’d most like to marry, it would definitely be Louis Theroux.

Let’s be honest here. There is nothing not to love about him – and I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing that you couldn’t learn from his documentaries, either. Louis’ series have explored every kind of place – meth-addled streets, gambling Vegas, the world of swingers, gangster culture, asylums and prisons. Louis is utterly unafraid and indomitably curious, and that’s what makes his shows so informative and himself so attractive. I do like a brave guy. Who doesn’t?

I have spent many hours of my life watching Louis’ documentaries with abject fascination. He does not delve into ancient history, or animal habits, or even the way in which things are made, like so many other documentors. He is not a historian or an explorer in those senses of the term. Instead, he delves into human eccentricities, human problems and habits. He logs how we interact across the endless spectrum of humankind. He informs us, by doing this, that our own habits and lifestyles are worthy of questioning and recording, as well as everything outside of ourselves. Therefore, if you’ve ever been interested in subcultures, cultures or even human habits in general, watching his explorations is a very worthy pursuit. The canvas of human habits is stretched out before you, no stone left unturned. He is unafraid.


Louis in prison

And this makes his shows unforgettable. Indeed, there’s a quality about documentaries in general that ensures that you’ll remember what you’re learning about, because you’re seeing it in action. You’re about as hands-on as you can get without physically being there yourself. it’s not like reading a chunky, sociological textbook from the nineties full of grainy, black and white pictures and old Chewits stains. It’s seeing something in action which makes you understand it – which opens your inner eyes, your “brain-eyes” (a grim image that I will definitely be incorporating into some sort of novel in the future).

Before I went to Thailand and had my own first-hand experience of a very different lifestyle, I consumed tons of Theroux to widen my perspectives. It’s the second best way to achieve this without going into a perspective-widening situation yourself. Through Louis I learned about Thai brides, hypnotherapy, the Westboro Baptist Church and female body builders. I learned that the spectrum of human life is more fluid and diverse that you could ever imagine fully in your own head – it sounds like an obvious thing to know, but watching Louis’ series really drives home how different and interesting everyone really is. How much we have to learn about each other. How much we think we know, as opposed to how much we actually know.


In the clutches of the gambling world

Further, Louis will really go everywhere, with seemingly little concern for his wellbeing. He’ll enter a cult to have a peek around – no biggie. He’ll question them. He’ll go into a prison and chat with the most notorious convicts. One of my favourite episodes within Louis’ Weird Weekends series is the one in which he goes to the “Dirty South” to learn about the world of gangsta rap, strolling through the most dangerous areas in which he learns that pretty much everyone has a gun and that they’re used pretty often – but he goes there anyway, pretty much without breaking a sweat. He is coolness personified.

Similarly, Louis handles everything with poise and understanding. I secretly think that he’s something of an evil genius, disguised within a lovely, polite English skin-suit. He draws insight out of even the most difficult situations by somehow knowing exactly what to ask, by knowing exactly how to encourage people to drop their guard. His finger is perfectly on the pulse of interaction. More than this, he is not aggressively confrontational or ruled by his emotions when documenting, despite the troublesome situations he occasionally finds himself in. He does not fly into a fit of rage towards the members of the Westboro Baptist Church when he watches them rallying, though many of us (myself included) would’ve been inclined to. Louis maintains the perfect amount of self-control, and as a result, he has results. And despite this control, Louis is by no means “frigid” in his approach to communication. He’ll also say honestly what he’s thinking or feeling – and people respond well to such genuineness. He is, in short, an evil genius in disguise. It’s the only explanation as to how he’s so good at talking. I’m also pretty sure that he knows everything. He has the look of someone who could be all-knowing.

To conclude, I’m a bit in love with Louis Theroux. He is an unafraid, arguably all-knowing, adorably genius, rap-god man. And whether you love him or you don’t, you can’t deny that he’s offering something crucial to our understanding of human nature. He endeavours, simply, to know, and as a result we know. You know?


You can find a lot of Theroux documentaries on Netflix. Get your asses on it.


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