People have always been interested in other people’s stories and personal lives. We love to hear the success (and even failure) stories of others around us; many of them have been told in real life and on screens in recent years. In 2021 alone, over 50 million people watched Oprah Winfrey’s explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
This article will examine some human stories (both living and dead) that have become hits on our screens. These stories are a testament to resilience, bravery, and companionship, to mention a few.
The Story of Harry and Meghan
As members of the world’s most famous royal family, the Duke, and Duchess of Sussex have been the focus of intense public scrutiny since the start of their relationship, making a big conversation that occupied news portals and newspaper pages, which wanted to tell the story of Harry and Meghan to the world. Yet we didn’t truly understand their relationship’s inner workings and tribulations until December 2022. In their Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, the couple pulls back the curtain to share their side of the tumultuous journey.
The series chronicles their whirlwind romance and the increasing harassment that eventually drove them to leave royal life. Viewers gain intimate insight into Harry and Meghan’s courtship and the challenges that threatened to tear them apart. The series, released on December 8, 2022, broke viewership records for Netflix. Within days of premiering, it amassed about 81.55 million hours viewed by subscribers globally.
Harry and Meghan’s story transcends public life into relatable themes of love, family, and identity. While depicting the harsh realities of racism, mental health issues, and loss, it reflects hope and resilience.
Critics praised the series for offering a raw, authentic perspective free from the tropes often propagated by the media. The large viewership demonstrates the innate human connection we seek with one another’s stories, especially those who appear to have it all together.
Jeen-Yuhs: The Inspiring Story of Kanye West
Released on Netflix in February 2022, the three-part documentary Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy offers viewers access to the journey of the 21-time Grammy Award-winning rapper Kanye West. Spanning over 20 years of footage, directors Coodie and Chike chart their friend’s ascent from ambitious producer and underground rapper to one of the most famous musicians.
Jeen-Yuhs highlights Kanye’s raw personal moments and iconic events like his “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” statement during Hurricane Katrina. It depicts his passions and vulnerabilities with incredible intimacy. We witness private interactions with his beloved mother, Donda, who passed away in 2007, and early doubts from record executives about his rapping abilities.
Viewers and critics praised Jeen-Yuhs for peeling back Kanye’s layers to reveal new depths. Fans hailed it as an overdue tribute to his artistry and resilience.
A Street Cat Named Bob: The Unlikely Friendship of a Cat and a Human
In early 2007, recovering drug addict James Bowen was close to relapsing when he met an injured ginger cat in London. Taking the feline in and naming him Bob, James soon gained more than a pet but a friend and inspiration to transform his life. Their unlikely friendship spurred bestselling books and a popular 2016 film, capturing hearts worldwide with a moving redemptive story.
As depicted in book and movie form, Bob gave homeless street musician James Bowen purpose during his battle with addiction. Busking with the fiercely loyal cat by his side attracted public attention, leading to a national newspaper article that jumpstarted their fame.
A Street Cat Named Bob spent over 76 weeks on the UK best sellers’ list, selling over 1 million copies. Upon its release, the film scored high audience marks for its heartwarming narrative. Viewers related to its themes of hope, empathy, and the profound bonds between humans and animals.
Harriet: A Story of Courage and Freedom
Few names embody heroic bravery and resilience, like Harriet Tubman, the renowned “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Her daring missions to liberate hundreds of enslaved people inspired storytellers for generations. Yet no feature film focused solely on Tubman’s exploits until 2019’s Harriet.
Starring Cynthia Erivo as the iconic abolitionist, “Harriet” chronicles Tubman’s transition from enslaved to liberating heroine. We witness how the brutal treatment she and other enslaved people received drove her courageous escape in 1849. We also see how she went on 13 death-defying rescue missions to free others under the noses of relentless slave hunters. Dramatic yet true sequences portray Harriet rescuing the masses, supporting historic uprisings, and becoming the first woman to lead an armed assault during the Civil War.
Beyond the compelling drama, many human narratives reveal phoenix-like resilience and courage that help us overcome adversity, from individual drama to the world-known story of Oppenheimer. The lead characters in the stories above, determined to brave frightening obstacles in defense of love and purpose, mirror what secretly dwells in many of us. Great storytelling ultimately comes down to illuminating neglected truths people yearn to see, hear, and share about each other. When fame magnifies these stories, our screens gain the power to show our highest potential.