Explained (TV series)

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Created by
Theme music composerJackson Greenberg[1]
Opening theme"Explained Theme Song"
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes44
Executive producers
  • Cory Popp
  • Doug Camberis
  • Mario Furloni
  • Andrew Berends
Running time14–26 minutes
Production companyVox
Original release
ReleaseMay 23, 2018 (2018-05-23) –
October 15, 2021 (2021-10-15)

Explained is an American documentary television series on the streaming service Netflix. The show is produced by Vox Media[2] and is based on Vox's previous YouTube video series which followed a similar format.[3] The show's episodes averaged between 16 and 24 minutes, with each focusing on a different topic.[4] Each episode is voiced by a different guest narrator.[5] The series premiered on Netflix on May 23, 2018 with episodes released on a weekly basis. The second season premiered on September 26, 2019 and the third season on July 16, 2021.

The show has also spawned five spin-off series. On September 12, 2019, Netflix released the first season of The Mind, Explained, a series focused specifically on topics related to the human brain. On January 4, 2020, a follow-up titled Sex, Explained was released, with episodes centered around the theme of sex.[6] On April 26, 2020, the 3-episode miniseries Coronavirus, Explained was released, which focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic.[7] On September 28, 2020, the 3-episode miniseries, Whose Vote Counts, Explained was released, which details this history and current context of voting in the United States.[8] Money, Explained, a 5-episode miniseries released on May 11, 2021, focused on financial scams, credit cards, student loans, retirement and gambling.[9] On November 9, 2021, a second season of The Mind, Explained was released.


Series overview[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
120May 23, 2018 (2018-05-23)September 19, 2018 (2018-09-19)
210September 26, 2019 (2019-09-26)November 28, 2019 (2019-11-28)
314July 16, 2021 (2021-07-16)October 15, 2021 (2021-10-15)

Season 1 (2018)[edit]

No. in
TitleNarratorOriginal release date [10]
11"The Racial Wealth Gap"Samira WileyMay 23, 2018 (2018-05-23)
A look at the wealth gap among races in the US and its causes, including slavery and racial segregation. Featuring Senator Cory Booker, Mehrsa Baradaran, and Thomas Shapiro. Appearances by TV host George Stephanopoulos, journalist Brian Williams, and Middle-Eastern American business expert Pierre Subeh.[11]
22"Designer DNA"Joss FongMay 23, 2018 (2018-05-23)
Scientists and experts discuss the risks and benefits, as well as potential consequences of, gene editing. Featuring Jennifer Doudna and Rebecca Cokley.
33"Monogamy"Maria BelloMay 23, 2018 (2018-05-23)
A historical and biological examination of monogamy, with a look at modern couples, cultural expectations, and the habits of other species, including bonobos. Featuring Dan Savage, Stephanie Coontz, Christopher Ryan, and David P. Barash.
44"K-Pop"Estelle CaswellMay 30, 2018 (2018-05-30)
Discussions with musicians, fans, and music theorists about the expanding global fascination with K-pop. Featuring Epik High and Primary.
55"Cryptocurrency"Christian SlaterJune 6, 2018 (2018-06-06)
Breaking down the growth and popularity of cryptocurrency, and its potential future value.
66"Why Diets Fail"Maria BelloJune 13, 2018 (2018-06-13)
An overview of various high-profile diets, and discussions about why many are unsuccessful long-term. Featuring Marion Nestle.
77"The Stock Market"Estelle CaswellJune 20, 2018 (2018-06-20)
A look into the connection between the stock market and a country's economy. Featuring Lynn A. Stout, Robert J. Shiller and Milton Friedman (archive footage).
88"eSports"Estelle CaswellJune 27, 2018 (2018-06-27)
An explanation of the rise of competitive video gaming, also known as eSports. Featuring Dennis Fong and Greg Street.
99"Extraterrestrial Life"LeVar BurtonJuly 4, 2018 (2018-07-04)
The debate of extraterrestrial life, including its possible existence, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and its place in pop-culture. Featuring Seth Shostak, Sara Seager, Paul Davies, and Jill Tarter.
1010"!"Nick KrollJuly 11, 2018 (2018-07-11)
A history of punctuation with specific emphasis on the exclamation mark (!), and its changing usage over time. Featuring Geoffrey Nunberg, Jason Parham, and Deborah Tannen.
1111"Cricket"Aasif MandviJuly 18, 2018 (2018-07-18)
A look at the history of the popular sport cricket. Featuring Stephen Fry, Jarrod Kimber, Brian Lara, Mihir Bose, and Stuart Robertson.
1212"Weed"Kevin SmithJuly 25, 2018 (2018-07-25)
Scientists and industry experts discuss the history of cannabis plants, the various usage of hemp, and the growing trend of popular products containing CBD extract. Featuring Michael Pollan, Tommy Chong, Carl Hart, Kyle Kushman, and Mark A. R. Kleiman.
1313"Tattoo"Coleman LowndesAugust 1, 2018 (2018-08-01)
An exploration of the history of tattoos, including tribal rituals and traditions in various cultures around the world, and their use as status symbols. Featuring Lars Krutak and Horiyoshi III.
1414"Astrology"Yara ShahidiAugust 8, 2018 (2018-08-08)
A look at the history and accuracy of astrology, as well as the science behind why people hold it in high regard.
1515"Can We Live Forever?"Kristen BellAugust 15, 2018 (2018-08-15)
Scientists and researchers discuss the possibility of extending human life expectancy, including looks at the study of ageing. Featuring Ezekiel Emanuel, Nir Barzilai, Laura Deming, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Cynthia Kenyon.
1616"The Female Orgasm"Rachel BloomAugust 22, 2018 (2018-08-22)
Discussions about the science and history behind the female orgasm, and ways modern women approach the subject. Featuring Lisa M. Diamond, Mireille Miller-Young, Beverly Whipple, and Paula England.
1717"Political Correctness"Jerry SpringerAugust 29, 2018 (2018-08-29)
A look at the debate surrounding political correctness, including talks of free speech, hate speech, and inclusivity, and how "PC-culture" has influenced politics. Featuring W. Kamau Bell, Julia Serano, Glenn Beck, and John L. Jackson Jr.
1818"Why Women Are Paid Less"Rachel McAdamsSeptember 5, 2018 (2018-09-05)
1919"The World's Water Crisis"Kyle MacLachlanSeptember 12, 2018 (2018-09-12)
An examination of the water crisis around the world, including ideas on how to protect clean water and ensuring third-world countries continue to have access. Featuring Amina Mohamed.
2020"Music"Carly Rae JepsenSeptember 19, 2018 (2018-09-19)
A brief history of music, and a discussion on the definitions of music and rhythm. Featuring Tokimonsta.

Season 2 (2019)[edit]

No. in
TitleNarratorOriginal release date [10]
211"Cults"Lakeith StanfieldSeptember 26, 2019 (2019-09-26)
A look at the history of Cults, including how they attract and manipulate people, and how online advancements have helped them spread. Featuring Catherine Oxenberg, Janja Lalich, Reza Aslan, and Mitch Horowitz.
222"Billionaires"Maggie SiffOctober 3, 2019 (2019-10-03)
An explanation of wealth accumulation and the growing number of billionaires around the world. Featuring Mark Cuban, Bernie Sanders, Jeffrey Sachs, Yasheng Huang, Abigail Disney, Brooke Harrington, and Dolly Lenz.
233"Animal Intelligence"Hilary SwankOctober 10, 2019 (2019-10-10)
A look into the ways in which humans measure the intelligence of animals. Featuring Frans de Waal, Laurie R. Santos, and Peter Godfrey-Smith.
244"Athleisure"Aya CashOctober 17, 2019 (2019-10-17)
An examination of athleisure, the activewear fashion. Featuring Kate Hudson, Chip Wilson, Valerie Steele, and Robin Givhan.
255"Coding"Karlie KlossOctober 24, 2019 (2019-10-24)
A history of the evolution of computer coding, and predictions for how coding can shape the future. Featuring Zeynep Tufekci, Alan Kay, Tim Wu, Andries van Dam, Garry Tan, and Karen Sandler.
266"Pirates"Natasha LyonneOctober 31, 2019 (2019-10-31)
A look into the history of pirates and why their image in pop culture clashes with their actual histories. Featuring Lauren Benton and Peter Leeson.
277"The Next Pandemic"J. K. SimmonsNovember 7, 2019 (2019-11-07)
A discussion of pandemics and how they spread. Featuring Bill Gates, Maryn McKenna, and Allan S. Detsky.
288"The Future of Meat"Vincent KartheiserNovember 14, 2019 (2019-11-14)
An explanation of the unsustainability of meat, and the rising popularity of plant-based meats. Featuring Paul Rozin, Melanie Joy, Michael Specter, and Josh Tetrick.
299"Beauty"John WatersNovember 21, 2019 (2019-11-21)
A wide-ranging look at beauty, including how humans define it and why art and nature can be aesthetically pleasing. Featuring Anjan Chatterjee and Richard Prum.
3010"Diamonds"Cleo AbramNovember 28, 2019 (2019-11-28)
A brief history of diamonds, including trade, their symbol, and their value. Featuring Sonia Marciano, William Spriggs, and Jacob Arabo.

Season 3 (2021)[edit]

No. in
TitleNarratorOriginal release date [10]
311"Sugar"Keri RussellJuly 16, 2021 (2021-07-16)
Shows the history of sugar and others synthetic sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame and sucralose. Debates the health question around sugar, showing myths and facts about its consumption.
322"Royalty"Rosario DawsonJuly 23, 2021 (2021-07-23)
Discusses how monarchies around the world keep surviving after centuries, even with the world changing around them.
333"Flags"Samira WileyJuly 30, 2021 (2021-07-30)
Explores how a piece of cloth transformed into a powerful symbol of both love and hate, freedom and oppression.
344"Dogs"Jake GyllenhaalAugust 6, 2021 (2021-08-06)
Why are dogs man's best friend? This episode focuses on the science behind the mind, and the heart, of our pet friends.
355"The End of Oil"Ethan HawkeAugust 13, 2021 (2021-08-13)
As our world becomes increasingly centred around renewable energy, this episode observes the end of an era for what has been our primary source of fuel for over a century.
366"Chess"Rainn WilsonAugust 20, 2021 (2021-08-20)
A brief look into the history behind this famous sport, its mental benefits and the global competition surrounding it.
377"Your Skin"Sophie OkonedoAugust 27, 2021 (2021-08-27)
388"Apologies"Keke PalmerSeptember 3, 2021 (2021-09-03)
399"Hurricanes"Héctor ElizondoSeptember 10, 2021 (2021-09-10)
4010"Plastic Surgery"Kim CattrallSeptember 17, 2021 (2021-09-17)
Discusses the original intentions of plastic surgery, how it is now used in the cosmetics industry and the differing views surrounding this controversial subject matter.
4111"Dance Crazes"Kelly RowlandSeptember 24, 2021 (2021-09-24)
Dives into the most popular dance trends, how a dance becomes popular and the legal matters in question concerning copyright with TikTok as an example.
4212"Time"Joseph Gordon-LevittOctober 1, 2021 (2021-10-01)
4313"Country Music"Connie BrittonOctober 8, 2021 (2021-10-08)
4414"Fairy Tales"Ruth NeggaOctober 15, 2021 (2021-10-15)
Shows that the most well-known fairytales have had a global presence and numerous variations, while putting into question whether the Walt Disney Company has assisted in or disparaged this cultural diversity.


The first season of Explained received generally positive reviews from critics.[12] Kahron Spearman of The Daily Dot praised the show's use of "experts, easy-to-understand charting, and linear storytelling".[13] In his review for IndieWire, Steve Greene wrote that the show "manages to avoid patronizing that unpredictable audience, presenting historical timelines and abstract concepts in a way that viewers can choose to digest however they wish".[14]


  1. ^ Greenberg, Jackson (September 27, 2019). "Explained Theme Song (Original Music From The Netflix Series)". open.spotify.com. Spotify. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "Vox's Netflix show "Explained," explained". Vox. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Vox's new Netflix series is really good, but it doesn't get us any closer to figuring out what news on streaming platforms looks like". Nieman Lab. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  4. ^ Greene, Steve (May 24, 2018). "'Explained' Review: Netflix's Intriguing Docuseries Tackles Every Topic in the World, From K-Pop to DNA, in 20 Minute Chunks". IndieWire. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  5. ^ "Every Narrator on Vox's Netflix Series "Explained" - What's on Netflix". What's on Netflix. August 22, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  6. ^ Julian, Jordan (January 4, 2020). "Janelle Monáe Explains Your Sexual Fantasies in Netflix's Sex-Ed Docuseries". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  7. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (April 25, 2020). "Netflix Unpacks Coronavirus Pandemic With New Season of 'Explained'". hollywoodreporter.com. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Gordon, Claire (September 24, 2020). "Whose vote counts, the Netflix series, explained". Vox. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Keller, Joel (May 11, 2021). "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Money, Explained' On Netflix, Where The Folks At Vox Explain What We Do With Our Money And Why". Decider.
  10. ^ a b c "Explained – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  11. ^ "The Racial Wealth Gap (2018) Full Cast & Crew". The Racial Wealth Gap (2018) on IMDB. April 21, 2020. Archived from the original on April 21, 2021.
  12. ^ "Explained: Season 1 - TV Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  13. ^ "Netflix's 'Explained' offers clear, sound information for chaotic timelines". The Daily Dot. May 23, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  14. ^ Greene, Steve (May 24, 2018). "'Explained' Review: Netflix's Intriguing Docuseries Tackles Every Topic in the World, From K-Pop to DNA, in 20 Minute Chunks". IndieWire. Retrieved December 20, 2018.

External links[edit]