Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends is a televisiondocumentary series, in which Louis Theroux gives viewers the chance to get brief glimpses into the worlds of individuals and groups that they would not normally come into contact with or experience up close. In most cases this means interviewing people with extreme beliefs of some kind, or just generally belonging to subcultures not known to exist by most or just frowned upon. It was first shown in the United Kingdom on BBC2. In 2001, Theroux was awarded the Richard Dimbleby Award for the Best Presenter BAFTA for his work on the series.
Louis Theroux's view on Weird Weekends:
Weird weekends sets out to discover the genuinely odd in the most ordinary setting. To me, it's almost a privilege to be welcomed into these communities and to shine a light on them and, maybe, through my enthusiasm, to get people to reveal more of themselves than they may have intended. The show is laughing at me, adrift in their world, as much as at them. I don't have to play up that stuff. I'm not a matinee idol disguised as a nerd.
This episode follows several people who believe in UFOs. One of these is a man called Thor Templar, the self-titled "Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate". He claims to have killed more than twenty aliens.
This episode offers a look at very different sides of the porn industry, as Louis interviews both male and female porn stars. He reveals the problems a lot of porn actors face, be it not getting a job in straight porn and therefore having to do gay porn, or not getting an erection when it is needed.
In Idaho, Louis meets military enthusiasts and right-wing patriots (such as Bo Gritz) who are preparing for a global catastrophe, including trips to survivalists' store Safetrek and a mountain refuge for conspiracy theorists called Almost Heaven. Louis also visits the Aryan Nation Church and helps to build a straw-bale home. The episode focuses on the survivalism movement and communities formed around it. That several self-proclaimed survivalists were also hippies and environmentalists is a recurring theme.
Louis invites someone from each of the four episodes of series 1 to his home for Christmas.
Louis meets a couple from Southern California who host swinging parties. He visits one of these to find out what drives couples to want to swap partners. This programme also offers a brief look into other kinds of swinging through an organisation that has a database of members that are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Under this system, people rated highly are invited to exclusive parties intended to keep out unattractive, socially awkward, or otherwise undesirable people.
American black nationalist groups have been branded anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynist and racist by the mainstream press. Louis Theroux goes to Harlem in New York to meet its proponents, and meets the Reverend Al Sharpton, the main point of contact in the black nationalist movement. Theroux also meets Khalid Abdul Muhammad, dubbed by the media 'the most dangerous man in America' and visits the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, who believe that blacks are the true Israelites and that all English monarchs until early modern times were black. Theroux also joins Al Sharpton on a march on Wall Street to protest at the shooting by New York police of Amadou Diallo, who was shot at 41 times and killed.
Louis has to overcome his nerves to enter a demolition derby in car-mad Michigan.
Louis meets the hordes of out-of-work actors in New York as they try to land a part – and even goes on an audition himself, for a job on a Norwegian cruise ship, in front of Craig Revel Horwood
Louis meets a Las Vegas hypnotist who claims he can make dreams come true and meets Ross Jeffries who teaches chat-up techniques.
Louis travels to India to witness Westerners seeking enlightenment. In Goa he meets 57-year old American astrologer (and former psychology professor) "Deepak" who studies meditation. He moves on to meet Mike, who is a follower of Swami Ganapathi Sachchidananda, and Amma who claims spiritual powers through hugging people. He then re-joins Amma on a pilgrimage with 400 believers on their three-month tour of India.
Louis meets Afrikaner separatists who dream of building cultural enclaves in post-apartheid South Africa, including leader Eugène Terre'Blanche.
Louis looks at the world of body building in the USA, including the female body building fetish scene and producers of wrestling videos.
Louis visits a Bangkok marriage agency where Western men meet Thai brides.
Louis travels to America's South to have a look at the gangsta rap scene known as the "Dirty South". He starts his own Gangsta rap, having a CD cover designed for him as well as getting the rappers Reece and Bigelow to write a song for him to perform on a rap radio show. Other parts include him interviewing pimp turned rapper Mello T, as well as rap superstar Master P.
In 2005 Louis released a book called The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures where he revisits people he previously interviewed for the Weird Weekends documentaries. He attempts to track down ten of his subjects, up to seven years after the shows, claiming a desire to see what "changes in their subcultures might say about the changes in the world at large", or at least "curious of what became of some of the odd folk [he] got to know".
He tracks down Thor Templar (alien resistance commander), JJ Michaels (porn star), Ike Turner (musician and ex-husband of Tina, from an uncompleted episode), Mike Cain (survivalist), Haley (prostitute), Jerry Gruidl (Aryan Nations), Mello T (pimp turned rapper), Oscody (Survivor of Heaven's Gate), Marshall Sylver (Hypnotist), and Lamb & Lynx (the singing White Nationalist twins – aged 11).
Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends has been released on PAL DVD in a number of best-of sets. Originally, Vol.1/Vol.2 and Vol.3/Vol.4 were released as two disc sets, before being split. Later the 4 volumes were released as a limited edition box set.