Wow, while I get to review a television show for the second time since starting this (I looked at the very first season of The 4400 a couple of days ago), I can finally check off “finished a television show”. Granted, this is a miniseries that I’d been meaning to watch for a while, but dammit, it counts!
So this dropped on Netflix a few years ago and my wife and I had heard really good things about it, but like a lot of shows we’ve been meaning to watch, we set it aside and never returned to it. Sometime later, we wound up watching the episode of Documentary Now! that parodied it, but still didn’t go out and watch it. Then, while flipping around and trying to figure out what to watch last weekend, we decided to get started.
Wild Wild Country is a six-part documentary that covers the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela along with their community of followers who wound up having a large compound in Wasco County, Oregon in the early 1980s. Coming on the heels of the tragedy at Jonestown in Guyana, the group, which was originally based in India, had characteristics similar to a cult and that alarmed the residents of the county and the nearby town of Antelope, who found themselves taken over by Sheila and the Bhagwan’s followers. It begins in the 1960s with the start of his teachings and then runs through the group at its height and ultimate fall.
While the first couple of episodes are a bit tedious and it takes a little while to get to the really salacious stuff, once things get going, Wild Wild Country gets so insane that you wonder if it’s even beyond parody–everything you think would be a joke about a cult would wind up being something that actually happened. And while there’s a lot of footage that has its fair share of full nudity (so if that’s not your thing, you’ll want to tread cautiously), there’s also an enormous amount of reliance on archival footage that is so thorough that unless you vividly remember this story, you’ll be completely mesmerized by it (and being that I was a little kid at the time, I didn’t remember it and was mesmerized by it.
I don’t know if you can binge this–we got through two episodes at the most before we decided to check out at watch GBBO, so it took a few days to watch it–but we spent the entire time we were watching it glued to the screen.
Watch or Skip?