Explained (TV series)

Explained is an American documentary television series that premiered on Netflix on May 23, 2018. The show, which is produced by Vox Media, releases episodes on a weekly basis.[1] Explained is based on Vox's previous YouTube videos series, which followed a similar format.[2]

Created by
Theme music composerJackson Greenberg
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes30 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Ezra Klein
  • Kara Rozansky
  • Claire Gordon
  • Chad Mumm
  • Lisa Nishimura
  • Joe Posner
  • Jason Spingarn-Koff
  • Kate Townsend
  • Cory Popp
  • Doug Camberis
  • Mario Furloni
  • Andrew Berends
Running time14–26 minutes
Production company(s)Vox
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseMay 23, 2018 (2018-05-23) 
present (present)
Related showsThe Mind, Explained
External links
Official website

The show's episodes average between 16–18 minutes, with each focusing on a different topic.[3] Each episode is also voiced by a different guest narrator.[4] Netflix ordered 20 episodes for the show's first season,[5] and greenlit a second season.[6]


Season 1 (2018)

No. in
TitleNarratorOriginal release date[7]
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.
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)
Discussions on the gender pay gap and the rights of women in the workplace. Featuring Valentine Rugwabiza, Hillary Clinton, Greta Van Susteren, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and Anne-Marie Slaughter.
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)

No. in
TitleNarratorOriginal release date[7]
211"Cults"Lakeith StanfieldSeptember 26, 2019 (2019-09-26)
An examination of cults, the means through which they exert control, and how loneliness and life online makes indoctrination easier than ever.
222"Billionaires"Maggie SiffOctober 3, 2019 (2019-10-03)
There are more billionaires than ever. But how does this vast accumulation of wealth affect the world? Mark Cuban and Bernie Sanders offer insights.
233"Animal Intelligence"Hilary SwankOctober 10, 2019 (2019-10-10)
What goes on inside an animal's mind? Figuring out how they think and feel might just be the key to understanding our own place in the world.
244"Athleisure"Aya CashOctober 17, 2019 (2019-10-17)
It began with boomers. Then came spandex. Now we sport leggings and other activewear everywhere. How did comfy, casual clothing go mainstream?
255"Coding"Karlie KlossOctober 24, 2019 (2019-10-24)
Computer code now controls how we live. But how did these programming languages evolve? And how can they be used to build a new and better world?
266"Pirates"Natasha LyonneOctober 31, 2019 (2019-10-31)
In pop culture, pirates are often depicted as booty-looting rogues, but their history is far more complicated. See how they became enemies of humanity.
277"The Next Pandemic"J. K. SimmonsNovember 7, 2019 (2019-11-07)
If you're not worried about a looming global pandemic, you probably should be. Are we prepared for an outbreak? Bill Gates and other experts weigh in.
288"The Future of Meat"Vincent KartheiserNovember 14, 2019 (2019-11-14)
The planet's current rate of meat consumption is unprecedented and becoming unsustainable. In the future, will meat alternatives be the answer?
299"Beauty"John WatersNovember 21, 2019 (2019-11-21)
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but what exactly makes things such as art and architecture aesthetically pleasing, and why do we like looking?
3010"Diamonds"Cleo AbramNovember 28, 2019 (2019-11-28)
A diamond is forever. But why is that? Dig into how these mined pieces of carbon became both a status symbol and a sparkly sign of everlasting love.


The first season of Explained received generally positive reviews from critics.[8] Kahron Spearman of The Daily Dot praised the show's use of "experts, easy-to-understand charting, and linear storytelling".[9] 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".[10]


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