Netflix Education: Best Finance Movies & TV Shows
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
Curious about getting to know the world of finance better but have no time to read piles of books and google complicated terminology? You'll be thrilled to hear there are simpler ways to achieve your goal – Netflix's got you covered! You might not even be aware of it but the world's largest video streaming platform offers a lot more than teen dramas, reality shows, and blockbuster movies. You can also catch the best finance movies, shows, and documentaries there that will teach you about:
Current economic situation
Cases of financial malpractice
Financial frauds and crimes
Financial crisis and their developments
How to invest and make smart passive income
What investments to avoid
...and much more!
Aside from informative documentaries, you can find a ton of finance movies and movies about money on Netflix that portray the lives of financial professionals, their clients, the risks they take, their greed, and the implications of their actions. The financial world is given to excesses... Luckily, you can take a peek at all this from a safe distance!
We've listed some of the best finance movies and shows available on Netflix to help you grow your financial awareness and understand the financial world a whole lot better. Enjoy! And while we're at it... Here's a great tip on how to save for a Netflix subscription without even lifting a finger!
Finance Documentaries and Docuseries
Money, Explained (2021)
You might have come upon Explained before: it's a short series of informative 15–25 minute-long episodes, each explaining a specific topic with the help of user-friendly graphics, expert interviews, fun facts, and real-life examples. Money, Explained is a five-episode spin-off that speaks about the topics that are relevant to the absolute majority of us – student loans, credit cards and retirement, as well as gambling and get-rich-quick schemes. While some of the episodes seem to be more focused at U.S. citizens, the basic principles are explained well enough to make this one of the most beginner-friendly finance TV shows currently available.
Dirty Money (2018–present)
Dirty Money is not one of those finance TV shows that focus on giving advice or teaching you about budgeting – instead, it focuses on the corporate business world and revealing its true colours. In fact, it's a real-life depiction of the moral decline within the corporate landscape and the people or companies behind it: Dirty Money follows the money and identifies the links between large companies and extortion, drug cartels, kidnappings, etc.
The two-season documentary series unearths malpractices and fraud cases related to major brands (Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, Valeant Pharmaceuticals – just to name a few) across the world and reveals the repercussions corporate greed imposes on unsuspecting Americans.
Freakonomics: The Movie (2010)
If you want a career as a finance professional, you need to understand what drives people. Freakonomics will help you do just that. The must-watch movie is based on a popular book called Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner... And well, the title actually sums the idea pretty well!
Freakonomics brings the power of incentive and the need for proper research and fact-finding is brought to light by exploring human behaviour. While it is based on case studies, it does focus on the lesser-seen side of things – such as the impact the name of a person might have on their social advancement. As the famous saying goes, things are not always what they seem – and Freakonomics definitely proves it's true in the world of finance!
Inside Job (2010)
Inside Job in one of the top finance movies that introduce the reasons behind the financial crisis that took the world by storm at the end of the 00s and the damage it caused. The jury doesn't give out Academy Awards for nothing, after all! The movie follows the story that unfolded during the entire decade, starting with what actually caused the housing boom and ending with where it all led.
Narrated by Matt Damon, this movie was highly acclaimed by critics and viewers – and even if you think the 2008 financial crisis is way behind us by now, it's a great way to understand how crises unfold and what causes them overall. Just make sure you don't confuse it with the animated series of the same name Netflix released in 2021!
The China Hustle (2017)
If you want to get a sneak peek into the world of international financial fraud, have a look at this documentary. The China Hustle follows the plotting between small Chinese investment businesses that took advantage of American investors by selling them the China Growth story. In a bid to recover after the 2008 financial crisis and improve their personal finances, investors rushed to join the party – however, the Chinese firms either operated at a lower scale than reported or were non-operational at all.
The documentary reveals the securities fraud and abuse performed by Chinese companies listed on the US stock market. It is a clear depiction of how capitalism rewards those who take advantage of others, which makes it one of the greatest finance movies on Netflix.
Tinder Swindler (2022)
Surprised to see this one on the list of finance movies? You shouldn't be! While Tinder Swindler might seem like a cautionary romance tale at first, it's also a great lesson on how financial con artists operate.
In this must-watch documentary, you'll see the story of Simon Leviev, a man who has swindled around $10 million from people across the globe – mostly women who he started romantic relationships with, only to trick them out of their money. His victims share their stories on screen without missing any details, which makes it easy to understand the schemes Leviev used and the red flags you should always be aware of should you ever find yourself in a similar situation!
Bad Vegan (2022)
We can't really mention Tinder Swindler and forgo Bad Vegan, right? Netflix really dove deep into con artist stories for the beginning of 2022, and this 4-part docuseries is another excellent example of how handling your finances should never equate to trusting other people with them completely!
Bad Vegan tells the tale of Sarma Melngailis – a successful owner of an NYC-based vegan restaurant. You would think businesspeople should be better with money, since aside from their own profits and expenses, they also have to take care of the entire business's finances – however, this show is a perfect example of how it's not always the case. Melngailis was tricked into giving over $1 million away by her boyfriends, and a massive part of the money came from the restaurant, leaving the staff unpaid. Again, a great lesson in what not to do!
Netflix Finance Movies and Series
Squid Game (2021–present)
Once this Korean series landed on Netflix, it became a global sensation almost overnight. Its premise is rather simple: hundreds of people who are struggling financially are lured into a game where they can win a massive sum of money... or die.
Following the stories of Squid Game players provides us with a ton of valuable finance lessons. Episode after episode, we are reminded about the importance of saving money for emergencies, using all the means of protection possible (from a PIN code that's not our child's birthday to a strong insurance policy!), and not putting sizeable sums on the line with things like gambling or risky investments.
Money Heist (2017–present)
Initially planned as a limited series, Money Heist (or La Casa de Papel in Spanish) now has 40+ episodes – and despite the non-English language, it's become a worldwide hit. It portrays a group of criminals who join their capabilities to complete very complex heists and steal huge amounts of money. It's fascinating to see how financial crimes can be committed up close – and yet, it's not just robbing you can earn about as you watch it!
The approach the Professor takes about robbing the Royal Mint of Spain and then the Bank of Spain applies to literally any financial decision you can make. First, he does extensive research and prepares a detailed plan; then, he works out a plan B and potentially even plan C. Never relying on his emotions to make strategic decisions makes him a great leader... and a superb criminal.
Some say all the top finance TV shows must involve some drama – if you agree, take a look at the 5-season Billions series and all the dirty tricks the hedge fund kingpin Bobby Axelrod performed in his pursuit for wealth!
The show’s primary focus is on the corruption of some Wall Street individuals, and the lengths to which attorneys will go to expose them. Billions also features a ruthless US attorney Chuck Rhoades as he strives to bring Bobby down. Bobby's character is in fact loosely based on the billionaire Steven A. Cohen and the hedge fund S.A.C. Capital Advisors founded (closed in 2016) – and some of the storylines are also inspired by real financial crimes. That's something that always makes finance shows better, isn't it?
The Big Short (2015)
This is another stock market movie on the financial crisis of the 00s – however, this one's not a documentary but rather a motion picture full of Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Margot Robbie. The Big Short does a great job at depicting and breaking down the crisis which resulted from predatory mortgage lending and unregulated markets, is well depicted and broken down.
There are three stories being told: while they are separate, they all play a role in causing the housing market bubble, and the exquisite casting helps make them even more persuasive. As one of the best movies about money on Netflix, The Big Short does more than just highlight the events preceding the crisis: it also depicts the moral conflict of the men who foresaw the housing bubble burst.
Ozark is an ultra-popular Netflix series about money laundering that is currently in its fourth and final season. The main character is Marty Byrde, a financial advisor who, along with his partner, is helping a drug cartel launder money – under the business turns sour, that is. Marty's partner gets killed, and Marty is given an opportunity to save his life by moving, diving into an even bigger money laundering scheme, and earning back the money he's lost.
While Ozark is not an educational show or a stock market movie by any means, it's always interesting to see how financial criminals operate on a relatively large scale – and how easy it is for financial professionals to get entangled with all kinds of dirty business if they're not being careful!
If you loved The Big Short because of its brilliant casting but want something that lasts longer than your regular finance movies, StartUp is a great 3-season series with stars like Martin Freeman, Adam Brody, Mira Sorvino and Ron Perlman. Initially introduced on a small platform called Crackle, the show didn't get as popular as it deserves at first – however, landing on Netflix catalogue helped millions of viewers around the world discover it anew. The story revolves a businessman who invests in a new cryptocurrency project called GenCoin – talk about relevant in 2022 when the cryptocurrencies are booming, eh?
Margin Call (2011)
Getting a margin call is never good news for any investor – but what exactly does it mean? Well, for example, an investor can open a margin account that holds securities bought with money borrowed from the investor's broker. As an investor, you are required to comply with a certain maintenance margin or the maximum percentage of the equity in the investment. Getting a margin call means that the value of your margin account has fallen below the brokers. This gives you two options: either deposit more money into your margin account, or close losing positions.
This must-watch financial thriller depicts the above description on a large scale and highlights the reckless risk-taking behavior shown by big firms. You are about to see just how bad a drop in the market can affect an entire company – and enjoy the work of world-class actors (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Penn Badgley, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and more!) in the process. If you're looking for a stock market movie to devour, we'd highly recommend Margin Call.
Inventing Anna (2022)
Similar to Tinder Swindler and Bad Vegan, Inventing Anna tells a story of a con artist and how people can get tricked into giving you money easily if you know what to say and how to act. However, what's different about this case is the fact that aside from deceiving individuals, this girl managed to trick professionals, institutions, businesses, and corporations – which makes this series a great opportunity to get an inside look of how real con artists operate.
Of course, the truth always catches up with you in the end. The real Anna was sentenced to years in prison and is currently awaiting deportation in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As you watch her story, you can once again be reminded on what's wrong with lifestyle inflation, why you should always live beyond your means, and why relying on others financially is never a good idea.
Wall Street (1987)
Last but not least, let's take a look at one of the best finance movies – or even one of the best stock market movies, to be more precise – a classic with a lasting message and Hollywood stars like Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. This age-old film is a great way to learn about the dangers of insider trading.
Wall Street follows a young man’s ambition to make it big and the repercussions of greed. It's a great stock market movie that depicts stock manipulation and challenges the value system that places profits above any other consideration. In 2010, the movie also got a sequel called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – and while it's not currently available on Netflix, it should definitely be on your top finance movies to watch list!
These must-watch finance movies and TV shows about money are highly entertaining – if you're interested in financial topics, they will keep you glued to your screen for a long time!
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