Just days before Netflix’s highly-anticipated Fyre Festival documentary was set to premiere, Hulu released their own documentary. Both films analyze the failure of the outrageously popular luxury music festival on the Bahamian island Great Exuma in 2017.
Hulu premiered “Fyre Fraud” on Monday, Jan. 14 and Netflix’s “Fyre” was released just four days later.
Obviously, the documentaries are covering the same failed event, so they are comparable in many ways. There are similar clips; some overlap in appearances or characters and parallel verbiage. However, the two documentaries portray the festival in two completely different lights.
I think the question shouldn’t be which one is better, but rather “What do you want to get out of watching the documentary?” because they provide completely different information:
Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud”
The Hulu documentary starts with the childhood and background of William “Billy” McFarland the director, creator and head behind the infamous Fyre Festival. There is a statement from his mother read aloud through an audio translator, which is an odd production choice especially because they didn’t provide any reason for doing so. The statement humanizes McFarland and paints him as business-minded and smart from a young age to frame the event in the context of his mind.
As we move through the rest of the documentary we watch the creation of Magnises, McFarland’s first fraudulent business venture, and the formulation of Fyre Festival based on the app. The entire film is narrated by a hosts of journalists, lawyers and attendees.
Netflix’s project takes a different approach. Rather than trying to delve into the mind and workings of the project in an analytical way, this production takes almost a vlog style approach by showing footage taken from the production team. The Netflix film gives an inside look into the planning or lack thereof, execution and demise of Fyre Festival which helps viewers understand what happened behind the scenes.
The entire film is narrated by previous employees who describe their duties and reactions to the hurdles and hoops they were forced to continually jump through to attempt to put the event on.
Hulu Criticism: My issue with the Hulu documentary is the fact that it took an analytical approach not solely of McFarland, but also generalizing millennials in general. It analyzed why people bought into Billy’s ideas time and time again, rather than the giant failure itself. Also, they kept using a weird translator voice that made the film awkward.
Hulu Positives: If you had more questions regarding McFarland’s charges after the festival and the fraudulent money laundering during the planning, then this is definitely for you. The documents shown give more of a background synopsis than a traditional documentary.
Netflix Criticism: While the personal accounts were more entertaining, the film lacks documentation to support the former employees’ claims. Also, it seemed to take the focus off of McFarland and Ja-Rule and look more to the hand that all of his employees played in the mess.
Netflix Positives: The Netflix film feels like you are truly following the action in the planning process. The film crew followed the employees the entire time, which produced visuals to supplement what people are saying added to the experience of the festival failure. If you’re someone who wanted to know more about the fruition of the festival and what both workers and attendees faced, then I would recommend watching this film.
Overall, I wouldn’t say one is superior to the other, but I would watch the Netflix film first followed by the Hulu film. One gives the overview of the event itself while the other gives details into McFarland’s decision making both before, during and surprisingly after the festival.