Corrections & clarifications: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated where to see “#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump.”
Election season has become high time for the political documentary, a movie that typically has something outrageous to say about President Donald Trump, something hopeful to say about the future and something agonizing to point out about our system of government. It's a film that can lean liberal or conservative (though usually the former) and often seeks to influence viewers' voting decisions.
And it's a film that's popping up on every platform imaginable right now.
So what should you watch and how should you watch it? Here's your guide to seven (of the many) documentaries available:
'Totally Under Control'
The hook: The Alex Gibney documentary, shot this year and completed one day before Trump revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19, paints a harrowing portrait of the administration's handling of the pandemic. The documentary uses the president's own words, such as "It will go away, just stay calm" and "We have it totally under control, it's going to be just fine," against him.
Most shocking moments: Many of the documentary's talking points – from Trump touting hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus cure to emergency officials predicting supply shortages of personal protective equipment years earlier – are troubling but not new. A particularly memorable interview is with Max Kennedy Jr., Robert Kennedy's grandson, who says he and many other 20-somethings worked as unpaid members of Jared Kushner's coronavirus task force, where he claims they were asked to obtain PPE despite having no resources, no supply chain experience and no access to people at the Federal Emergency Management Agency who could help.
How to see it: In theaters and on demand; streaming Tuesday on Hulu.
The hook: Through the lens of outspoken Tea Party congressman U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and other Republicans, the film demonstrates how politics becomes corrupt, with representatives incentivized to take money from special interest groups in order to secure their seats on committees.
Most shocking moments: Gaetz shows what he calls his "assessment card," which he says "lets you know how much money you owe the party bosses." Another way to "elevate your profile in Washington is to drive conflict," Gaetz acknowledges as he plans to storm the House Intelligence Committee room during a closed-door deposition for Trump's impeachment inquiry. The president is depicted as a looming presence that Gaetz is constantly trying to please. (In Gaetz's words, Trump has "some rough edges," but "is doing all that he can to change the ways of Washington.")
How to see it: Now streaming on HBO Max.
'#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump'
The hook: A group of psychoanalysts assess the president's mental health through his speeches and behavior, and describe him as a "malignant narcissist" who shows signs of paranoia, antisocial personality disorder and sadism.
Most shocking moments: They point out that Trump's ex-wife Ivana said he liked reading Hitler's speeches, a man whom they give the same diagnosis.
How to see it: Now streaming on YouTube, Amazon Prime and Vudu.
'All in: The Fight for Democracy'
The hook: The documentary – which stars and was produced by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whose Georgia race was marked by allegations of voter suppression – covers her own election controversy and the history of voter suppression in America. The film takes issue with Trump's claim that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote "because of people who voted illegally," and says there was no evidence of fraud in the 2016 election or any evidence of fraud tied to mail-in ballots this year.
Most shocking moments: Historian Carol Anderson tells the story of Maceo Snipes, a Black man who was fatally shot a day after being the only African American to vote in the 1946 Democratic primary in Taylor Country, Georgia.
How to see it: Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
'The Accidental President'
The hook: Pundits and celebrities discuss whether Trump's presidential campaign began as a marketing ploy to raise his public profile, and how he became commander in chief despite polls showing he'd lose.
Most shocking moments: Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway describes strategic moves such as inviting women who accused President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to a presidential debate. "We see you one Mark Cuban (a vocal critic of Trump invited to the debate by Hillary Clinton) and we’ll raise you four or five Clinton accusers," she said, laughing. "See how much fun I had?" Journalist Molly Ball describes Trump's popularity this way: "They want someone that feels like a real person, even if that real person is all kinds of weird."
How to see it: In theaters now and on demand Oct. 27.
The hook: A group of Texas teenagers forms a representative government at a summer program called Boys State. With a focus on four boys who run for mock office, it shows how some of them seem to have wisdom beyond their years, but others are willing to explicitly lie and exploit their opponents in order to succeed.
Most shocking moments: In one scene, Robert MacDougall, an 18-year-old running for Boys State governor, admits that he is pro-choice right after making an impassioned speech to the contrary. "My stance on abortion would not line up at all with the guys out there, so I chose to pick a new stance," he says. "That’s politics. If I win, I'm the governor. Sometimes you gotta say what you gotta say in an attempt to win." Another young man, Ben Feinstein, sees Trump as someone who successfully sent a political message that resonated with voters, despite the fact that it may not be true. Feinstein uses the same tactic to run a friend's campaign: "I have no regrets," he says. But he acknowledges, "In the end, maybe God will judge me differently for this."
How to see it: Now streaming on Apple TV+.
'Not Done: Women Remaking America'
The hook: A look at the women behind the Time's Up, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements. "Not Done" is one of several new documentaries that cover the topic of women finding agency and leading social and political movements. Among them: "And She Could Be Next," "Surge" and "Resisterhood."
Most shocking moments: You may have already learned about what it took for New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey to publish their 2017 report about Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment allegations, but hearing them talk about secretly meeting with the ex-Hollywood mogul's accountant, asking accusers to talk on the record and being followed and threatened in the days leading up to their story publishing is still striking. And author and activist Amy Richards acknowledges that she wasn't surprised that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election. "I know there are many reasons that people have given for why she was not a great candidate," she says, "but I think that ultimately what was underlying a lot of people’s resistance was quite simply that she was a woman."
How to see it: Premieres Oct. 27 on PBS (8 EDT/PDT; check local listings); and then streaming on MAKERS.com starting Oct. 28.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Election Day: Best political documentaries to see before you vote