Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) has launched four episodes of “How to Change Your Mind” based on the Michael Pollan book of the same name. The four-part docu-series was executive produced by Alex Gibney and directed by Alison Ellwood. The series is based on The New York Times best-selling book and it dives into the science of psychedelics while touching on consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Each episode targets a different mind-altering substance: LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline.
Pollan told Deadline, “The current renaissance in psychedelic research has been the most compelling and hopeful story I’ve covered in thirty years as a journalist. But it’s one thing to describe the powerful effects of these substances in a book, and quite another to evoke that experience, and its incredible potential for healing, on the screen, as the Netflix adaptation of How to Change Your Mind has masterfully done.” Deadline wrote, “With Pollan as a guide, viewers will journey to the frontiers of the new psychedelic renaissance – and look back at the almost-forgotten historical context – to explore the potential of these substances to heal and change minds as well as culture.”
Pollan also wrote the books This Is Your Mind On Plants, Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire. Cooked was adapted as a TV series that is also streaming on Netflix and The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food premiered on PBS.
It is this literary pedigree that has given Pollan’s book a lot of weight within the psychedelics industry. However, a recent podcast called “Cover Story” from New York Magazine delved into the dark side of the psychedelic industry and one episode featured a conversation with Pollan. Episode 8 titled “Who AmI Fooling” questioned whether Polan’s cheerleading of psychedelics ignored the downsides of these powerful drugs. The podcast hosts fear that the book will make the psychedelic experiences entice many people without any warning of the negatives.
Host Lily Kay Ross said,
Michael listened to the people who called him, he forwarded their letters and put them in touch with key people. They all told us that. And he’s also included more footnotes of caution in his interviews and talks.But it doesn’t compare to the roar of celebration.
Pollan’s show isn’t the only psychedelics program on Netflix that cuts from the mainstream. Gwyneth Paltrow’s series “The Goop Lab” features an episode on a magic mushroom retreat in Jamaica. It’s lighthearted and cheerful with lots of laughter in a beautiful setting. Then there’s “Have a Good Trip” which features numerous celebrities discussing psychedelics in an original documentary with live-action and animation. So, Pollan’s is just the latest to feature psychedelics on Netflix.