Not since “Making A Murderer” has a documentary series been so well-done and so engaging. But I don’t need to tell you that. Watch a morning show or read an entertainment magazine and you will encounter rave reviews for “Wild, Wild Country.” It is currently the trendy thing to watch…with good reason.
Before I delve into why people can’t get enough of it, I did want to offer my personal assessment on the series. Watching the six episodes over six consecutive nights, I became more and more intrigued as I worked my way through it. The documentary tells a gripping tale of contrasting cultures in a sleepy Oregon town. The citizens of Antelope went to bed one night and woke up the next day to find that eccentric new neighbors had moved nearby. These newcomers brought a way of life completely different from that of the conservative longtime residents.
A culture war ensued.
As someone who is fascinated by these sociological power struggles, I couldn’t keep my eye off the screen. The Rajneeshees transplanted to Oregon from India, introducing a lifestyle that would make any average townsperson blush. They were passionate and they were extreme. Learning about their beliefs and observing their motivation was very interesting to me.
But aside from the culture clash, I was drawn in by the storytelling aspect. The documentary creators used a combination of honest and revealing interviews combined with vivid and shocking archived footage to tell a wild tale. The interviews were conducted with key people, both Rajneeshees and individuals who opposed the Rajneeshees, to give both sides of the story. The accounts by these complex people, many who you will get to know really well, are given to the backdrop of both beautiful and shocking video.
For me, the ultimate part of “Wild, Wild County,” topping both the culture battle and the effective storytelling, is the portrayal of the person who started it all…the Bhagwan (aka Rajneesh or Osho). There is just something intriguing about a “guru” with a long beard, a fragile demeanor, and a taste for Rolls Royces. Looking like he was at least 100 years old, I couldn’t get enough of the guy. From how he attracted thousands of followers to how he went years without speaking to how he made a crazy last minute attempt to evade authorities – it was fascinating.
Why do people not interested in sociological themes, filmmaking, and bearded old dudes like “Wild, Wild Country”? I would say because it has everything.
It has mystery, sex, conflict, eastern world mysticism, greed, betrayal, and all the other things that people enjoy. What took place was nothing short of outrageous and we all like to see a good trainwreck every now and then. It has something for everyone and is structured in a way meant for easy, structured watching.
I highly recommend “Wild, Wild Country.” It will surely pose questions and make you think. If you care to do so, I would be more than happy to entertain your thoughts about the documentary. Give it a try! Don’t Blink.