How could a $12,000 luxury music festival in the Bahamas go so hilariously wrong? That is the question explored in two dueling documentaries from Hulu and Netflix out this week, both of which excavate the infamous 2017 Fyre Festival and its founder, Billy McFarland, who has since been charged with fraud.
But if you only have time for one, which should you watch?
Hulu's Fyre Fraud (out now)Hulu's Fyre documentary takes a macro look at the festival's failure, and what it says about both Millennial culture and America. Fyre Fraud is hinged heavily on interviews with talking heads, who offer key context for the conditions that allowed Fyre Festival to happen — or, well, not happen. The draw of Fyre Fraud is the exclusive sit-down with McFarland, although he offers little in the way of personal accountability or introspection. Relying on stock footage and TV clips, Fyre Fraud is a slick look at the festival's downfall and how it fits into modern influencer culture.
Netflix's Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (released Friday)Fyre zeroes in on the rise and fall of the Fyre Festival specifically, following the event from its origin as a promotion for a talent-booking app to its collapse and the legal blowback. Netflix's documentary, which relies on interviews with Fyre media insiders and McFarland's former allies, is almost painful to watch, as the audience can see the project careening toward disaster. Fyre additionally emphasizes that the festival's real victims weren't the rich kids, but the low-level employees and local Bahamans who suffered the financial consequences.
The Verdict: Netflix's Fyre. While Hulu's Fyre Fraud offers more cultural context around the event's lead-up, Netflix's Fyre keeps a tight focus on the festival and offers more juicy details. While it's frequently hilarious, Fyre also reminds audiences that real people were hurt by the scam. The film is an indictment of everyone involved.