Explained (TV series)
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|Theme music composer||Jackson Greenberg|
|Opening theme||"Explained Theme Song"|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||30 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||14–26 minutes|
|Original release||May 23, 2018 –|
November 28, 2019
Explained is an American documentary television series that premiered on Netflix on May 23, 2018 and ran for two seasons, with episodes released on a weekly basis. The show was produced by Vox Media and was based on Vox's previous YouTube video series which followed a similar format. The show's episodes averaged between 16 and 18 minutes, with each focusing on a different topic. Each episode was voiced by a different guest narrator.
The show has also spawned five spin-off limited series. On September 12, 2019, Netflix released The Mind, Explained, a 5-episode miniseries focused specifically on topics related to the human brain. On January 4, 2020, a follow-up titled Sex, Explained was released, with episodes centered around the theme of sex. On April 26, 2020, the 3-episode miniseries Coronavirus, Explained was released, which focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 28, 2020, the three episode miniseries, Whose Vote Counts, Explained debuted on the streaming service on Netflix. The series details this history and current context of voting in the United States. Money, Explained, a five episode miniseries released on May 11, 2021, focused on financial scams, credit cards, student loans, retirement and gambling.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||20||May 23, 2018||September 19, 2018|
|2||10||September 26, 2019||November 28, 2019|
|3||5||May 11, 2021||May 11, 2021|
Season 1 (2018)
|Title||Narrator||Original release date |
|1||1||"The Racial Wealth Gap"||Samira Wiley||May 23, 2018|
|A look at the wealth gap among races in the US and its causes, including slavery and racial segregation. Featuring Senator Cory Booker, Mehrsa Baradaran, and Thomas Shapiro. Appearances by TV host George Stephanopoulos, journalist Brian Williams, and Middle-Eastern American business expert Pierre Subeh.|
|2||2||"Designer DNA"||Joss Fong||May 23, 2018|
|Scientists and experts discuss the risks and benefits, as well as potential consequences of, gene editing. Featuring Jennifer Doudna and Rebecca Cokley.|
|3||3||"Monogamy"||Maria Bello||May 23, 2018|
|A historical and biological examination of monogamy, with a look at modern couples, cultural expectations, and the habits of other species, including bonobos. Featuring Dan Savage, Stephanie Coontz, Christopher Ryan, and David P. Barash.|
|4||4||"K-Pop"||Estelle Caswell||May 30, 2018|
|Discussions with musicians, fans, and music theorists about the expanding global fascination with K-pop. Featuring Epik High and Primary.|
|5||5||"Cryptocurrency"||Christian Slater||June 6, 2018|
|Breaking down the growth and popularity of cryptocurrency, and its potential future value.|
|6||6||"Why Diets Fail"||Maria Bello||June 13, 2018|
|An overview of various high-profile diets, and discussions about why many are unsuccessful long-term. Featuring Marion Nestle.|
|7||7||"The Stock Market"||Estelle Caswell||June 20, 2018|
|A look into the connection between the stock market and a country's economy. Featuring Lynn A. Stout, Robert J. Shiller, and Milton Friedman (archive footage).|
|8||8||"eSports"||Estelle Caswell||June 27, 2018|
|An explanation of the rise of competitive video gaming, also known as eSports. Featuring Dennis Fong and Greg Street.|
|9||9||"Extraterrestrial Life"||LeVar Burton||July 4, 2018|
|The debate of extraterrestrial life, including its possible existence, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and its place in pop-culture. Featuring Seth Shostak, Sara Seager, Paul Davies, and Jill Tarter.|
|10||10||"!"||Nick Kroll||July 11, 2018|
|A history of punctuation with specific emphasis on the exclamation mark (!), and its changing usage over time. Featuring Geoffrey Nunberg, Jason Parham, and Deborah Tannen.|
|11||11||"Cricket"||Aasif Mandvi||July 18, 2018|
|A look at the history of the popular sport cricket. Featuring Stephen Fry, Jarrod Kimber, Brian Lara, Mihir Bose, and Stuart Robertson.|
|12||12||"Weed"||Kevin Smith||July 25, 2018|
|Scientists and industry experts discuss the history of cannabis plants, the various usage of hemp, and the growing trend of popular products containing CBD extract. Featuring Michael Pollan, Tommy Chong, Carl Hart, Kyle Kushman, and Mark A. R. Kleiman.|
|13||13||"Tattoo"||Coleman Lowndes||August 1, 2018|
|An exploration of the history of tattoos, including tribal rituals and traditions in various cultures around the world, and their use as status symbols. Featuring Lars Krutak and Horiyoshi III.|
|14||14||"Astrology"||Yara Shahidi||August 8, 2018|
|A look at the history and accuracy of astrology, as well as the science behind why people hold it in high regard.|
|15||15||"Can We Live Forever?"||Kristen Bell||August 15, 2018|
|Scientists and researchers discuss the possibility of extending human life expectancy, including looks at the study of ageing. Featuring Ezekiel Emanuel, Nir Barzilai, Laura Deming, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Cynthia Kenyon.|
|16||16||"The Female Orgasm"||Rachel Bloom||August 22, 2018|
|Discussions about the science and history behind the female orgasm, and ways modern women approach the subject. Featuring Lisa M. Diamond, Mireille Miller-Young, Beverly Whipple, and Paula England.|
|17||17||"Political Correctness"||Jerry Springer||August 29, 2018|
|A look at the debate surrounding political correctness, including talks of free speech, hate speech, and inclusivity, and how "PC-culture" has influenced politics. Featuring W. Kamau Bell, Julia Serano, Glenn Beck, and John L. Jackson Jr..|
|18||18||"Why Women Are Paid Less"||Rachel McAdams||September 5, 2018|
|Discussions on the gender pay gap and the rights of women in the workplace. Featuring Valentine Rugwabiza, Hillary Clinton, Greta Van Susteren, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and Anne-Marie Slaughter.|
|19||19||"The World's Water Crisis"||Kyle MacLachlan||September 12, 2018|
|An examination of the water crisis around the world, including ideas on how to protect clean water and ensuring third-world countries continue to have access. Featuring Amina Mohamed.|
|20||20||"Music"||Carly Rae Jepsen||September 19, 2018|
|A brief history of music, and a discussion on the definitions of music and rhythm. Featuring Tokimonsta.|
Season 2 (2019)
|Title||Narrator||Original release date |
|21||1||"Cults"||Lakeith Stanfield||September 26, 2019|
|A look at the history of Cults, including how they attract and manipulate people, and how online advancements have helped them spread. Featuring Catherine Oxenberg, Janja Lalich, Reza Aslan, and Mitch Horowitz.|
|22||2||"Billionaires"||Maggie Siff||October 3, 2019|
|An explanation of wealth accumulation and the growing number of billionaires around the world. Featuring Mark Cuban, Bernie Sanders, Jeffrey Sachs, Yasheng Huang, Abigail Disney, Brooke Harrington, and Dolly Lenz.|
|23||3||"Animal Intelligence"||Hilary Swank||October 10, 2019|
|A look into the ways in which humans measure the intelligence of animals. Featuring Frans de Waal, Laurie R. Santos, and Peter Godfrey-Smith.|
|24||4||"Athleisure"||Aya Cash||October 17, 2019|
|An examination of athleisure, the activewear fashion. Featuring Kate Hudson, Chip Wilson, Valerie Steele, and Robin Givhan.|
|25||5||"Coding"||Karlie Kloss||October 24, 2019|
|A history of the evolution of computer coding, and predictions for how coding can shape the future. Featuring Zeynep Tufekci, Alan Kay, Tim Wu, Andries van Dam, Garry Tan, and Karen Sandler.|
|26||6||"Pirates"||Natasha Lyonne||October 31, 2019|
|A look into the history of pirates and why their image in pop culture clashes with their actual histories. Featuring Lauren Benton and Peter Leeson.|
|27||7||"The Next Pandemic"||J. K. Simmons||November 7, 2019|
|A discussion of global pandemics and how they spread. Featuring Bill Gates, Maryn McKenna, and Allan S. Detsky.|
|28||8||"The Future of Meat"||Vincent Kartheiser||November 14, 2019|
|An explanation of the unsustainability of meat, and the rising popularity of plant-based meats. Featuring Paul Rozin, Melanie Joy, Michael Specter, and Josh Tetrick.|
|29||9||"Beauty"||John Waters||November 21, 2019|
|A wide-ranging look at beauty, including how humans define it and why art and nature can be aesthetically pleasing. Featuring Anjan Chatterjee and Richard Prum.|
|30||10||"Diamonds"||Cleo Abram||November 28, 2019|
|A brief history of diamonds, including trade, their symbol, and their value. Featuring Sonia Marciano, William Spriggs, and Jacob Arabo.|
Season 3 (2021)
|Title||Narrator||Original release date |
|31||1||"Get Rich Quick"||Tiffany Haddish||May 11, 2021|
|A look at the history of financial scams, con artists and how technology has made it easier for people to fall for these schemes.|
|32||2||"Credit Cards"||Jane Lynch||May 11, 2021|
|33||3||"Student Loans"||TBA||May 11, 2021|
|34||4||"Gambling"||Bobby Cannavale||May 11, 2021|
|35||5||"Retirement"||TBA||May 11, 2021|
The first season of Explained received generally positive reviews from critics. Kahron Spearman of The Daily Dot praised the show's use of "experts, easy-to-understand charting, and linear storytelling". In his review for IndieWire, Steve Greene wrote that the show "manages to avoid patronizing that unpredictable audience, presenting historical timelines and abstract concepts in a way that viewers can choose to digest however they wish".
- Greenberg, Jackson. "Explained Theme Song (Original Music From The Netflix Series)". open.spotify.com. Spotify. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
- "Vox's Netflix show "Explained," explained". Vox. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- "Vox's new Netflix series is really good, but it doesn't get us any closer to figuring out what news on streaming platforms looks like". Nieman Lab. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Greene, Steve (May 24, 2018). "'Explained' Review: Netflix's Intriguing Docuseries Tackles Every Topic in the World, From K-Pop to DNA, in 20 Minute Chunks". IndieWire. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
- "Every Narrator on Vox's Netflix Series "Explained" - What's on Netflix". What's on Netflix. August 22, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
- Julian, Jordan (January 4, 2020). "Janelle Monáe Explains Your Sexual Fantasies in Netflix's Sex-Ed Docuseries". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
- Jarvey, Natalie (April 25, 2020). "Netflix Unpacks Coronavirus Pandemic With New Season of 'Explained'". hollywoodreporter.com. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
- Gordon, Claire (September 24, 2020). "Whose vote counts, the Netflix series, explained". Vox. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Keller, Joel (May 11, 2021). "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Money, Explained' On Netflix, Where The Folks At Vox Explain What We Do With Our Money And Why". Decider.
- "Explained – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
- "The Racial Wealth Gap (2018) Full Cast & Crew". The Racial Wealth Gap (2018) on IMDB. April 21, 2020.
- "Explained – Listings". Next Episode. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
- "Get Rich Quick (2011) Full Cast & Crew". Get Rich Quick (2021) on IMDB. May 17, 2021.
- "Explained: Season 1 - TV Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes". www.rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- "Netflix's 'Explained' offers clear, sound information for chaotic timelines". The Daily Dot. May 23, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Greene, Steve (May 24, 2018). "'Explained' Review: Netflix's Intriguing Docuseries Tackles Every Topic in the World, From K-Pop to DNA, in 20 Minute Chunks". IndieWire. Retrieved December 20, 2018.