Netflix and Hulu just released competing documentaries about the well-known Fyre Festival scam of 2017. “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” on Netflix and “Fyre Fraud” on Hulu were released just days apart, Hulu’s preceding Netflix’s version.
The two streaming services took different approaches to the subject matter in the interviews they filmed and the way the documentary was edited. I think that Netflix’s take was more like an advertisement for the festival’s failure, while Hulu investigated the bigger reasons for why it was such an utter disappointment.
For those who aren’t familiar with this event, Fyre was supposed to be an extravagant, elite music festival on a private island in the Bahamas. But it ended up being an absolute disaster.
Entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, the founders of Fyre, promised festival-goers an over-the-top experience of partying with supermodels, swimming with pigs, riding on watercrafts, etc. But the guests were in for an unpleasant surprise when they landed on the island. Everything that was promised was a sham; some people were not even provided necessities like food and water.
From the posts I saw on social media before watching either of these documentaries, I knew that Hulu had an interview with Billy McFarland, the mastermind behind the rip-off, while Netflix did not. I assumed because of this one interview “Fyre Fraud” was sure to be the superior of the two films. But I don’t think that this exclusive added much.
McFarland was vague enough during the interview that what he said added almost no substance. We heard from other interviews that the reason why he could get money from investors so easily was because he was so good with words. But that was not apparent in the interview: He was uncomfortable and not relatable. I think the interview did more to hurt McFarland’s image and Hulu’s film.
Hulu took a more comical approach, and I think they did this because in our society people find humor in an influencer’s misfortune. This idea of an "influencer" and how that played a huge part in the Fyre failure is something that Hulu really delved into.
The new job market of a social media influencer has rocketed in recent years with technology improvements, and for the most part, influencers were the only ones who were attending the festival.
We think they live this "perfect" life that is portrayed on Instagram and Twitter, so it makes the average person laugh to see that the VIP vacation influencers paid tens of thousands to attend was fake.
Netflix played a lot of the footage from the advertisements for Fyre, like the ones of the supermodels on the beach, swimming with sharks and all the lavish things that were promised to people. They took a step-by-step approach and pointed out where exactly everything went wrong and why.
After watching both documentaries I still found myself with questions. What happened to the Bahamians who spent months working day and night? Did they ever get paid? Why was Ja Rule not blamed as well? How were so many people involved and somehow this scheme still played out? I guess we’ll never know.
But as for which film I would ultimately recommend watching: Netflix trumped Hulu on this one.