Mr & Mrs Fox
Happily Ever After
No Angels in Hell
Everything Will Be Fine
Netflix have a knack for creating gripping and shocking true-crime docu-series. Already this year we’ve had a fair few drop on the platform but Bad Vegan could be the most poignant and surprising of them all.
Unlike the wacky craziness of Tiger King in 2020 or the chilling undercurrent of uneasiness in last month’s Worst Roommate Ever, Bad Vegan is more akin to something like The Tinder Swindler.
For those unaware of this story, I’ll try not to go into spoilers and reveal everything but the story essentially revolves around a celebrity restauranteur called Sarma Melngailis. Once hailed the queen of vegan food, Sarma’s fall from grace is a startling one, with charges ranging from tax fraud, first-degree schemes to defraud, a violation of labor laws and more. And this arrest was made when Sarma and her partner Shane Fox (Anthony Strangis), ordered a Domino’s pizza.
I won’t go into specifics as I think this is one of those cases that’s best to jump into blind to see how everything unfolds. The first episode works to gain a background on Sarma and what sort of person she is. It is a little slow at times, as it weaves through her various ties with her ex and friendship with Alec Baldwin, which is key to understanding what happens next. Eventually this leads to Sarma meeting a guy on Words with Friends, eventually escalating out from there.
The final three episodes then dive into the crux of the issue, which is as shocking as it is poignant. As Sarma uncovers more of what’s happening around her, the rabbit hole turns to a black cascade of which there appears to be no escape. The episodes are a tad overlong at times, but at only 4 episodes, there’s a good amount of content here to chew through in a couple of sessions.
Most of the series centers on talking head interviews, with archival footage of text messages, tweets and news footage from the case overlapping to give some visual context to what’s happening.
The music also feeds into the aforementioned poignancy of the whole affair, while Sarma’s dominating narration across this season works well to five a first-hand account of exactly what happened – and how that’s affected her life.
We’ve seen a lot of these scam-based documentaries recently and while Bad Vegan may not be the best, it’s a solid, unflinching look at how one decision can send your whole life spiraling out of control. This one’s definitely worth checking out.
Verdict - 8/10