The most important issues raised by Louis Theroux

From gender dysphoria to dangerous pets, Louis Theroux has covered a lot of ground!

Louis Theroux (@officiallouistheroux) is arguably a TV legend. His calm tone and demeanour in the context of a rowdy high-security prison is somewhat hilarious. But on a serious note, Louis Theroux’s many documentaries are hard-hitting and look at topics that are often shied away from in society.

Some of the most important issues Louis Theroux has tackled are mental health, rape, adoption, eating disorders, euthanasia, drug abuse, dangerous pets and gender dysphoria, and we’ve looked into exactly which documentaries cover what.

Mental Health

Mothers on the Edge‘ shows Louis Theroux exploring the lives of mothers who suffer from serious mental health conditions (often triggered by birth or the strains of motherhood) and how they live while taking care of their babies and themselves at such a vulnerable time.

Going back to 2012, ‘Extreme Love:1. Autism‘ shows Louis visiting one of the best schools in America for autistic children and talks about the pleasures and strains of life for families with children with autism.

Extreme Love:2. Dementia‘ sees Louis travel to Phoenix, the capital of dementia care, to gauge an understanding of life with dementia and how it affects the person’s relationships and the families impacted by it.


The Night in Question‘ documents the serious events of sexual assault claims on University Campuses, with Louis speaking with students first-hand. For example, Theroux spoke with Saif Khan- a student who was investigated by his University over an accusation of raping a fellow student, despite being found not-guilty in court of law.

The documentary also hears from young women whose sexual assault claims have fallen upon deaf ears and how they believe a new approach to handling allegations of sex crimes is necessary.


Louis looks at private adoption in California in his documentary ‘Altered States: 3. Take my baby‘. He spends time with the birth mothers who are preparing to hand over their babies, and finds out what that led to them making such a big decision. He also meets the adoptive families and finds out about the financial side of adopting a child.

Eating Disorders

Louis Theroux’s ‘Talking to Anorexia‘ sees Louis spend time in two of London’s largest eating disorder facilities in order to meet women of all ages with anorexia at various stages, accompanying them through an enforced daily routine of scheduled eating, weigh-ins and group therapy sessions.


Altered states: 2. Choosing Death‘ shows Louis spending time with people preparing to take a lethal but legally prescribed overdose and a controversial group who educate others on how to end their life. He also meets a woman planning to end her life long before what would be her natural time, raising questions about how much control we should have over death.

Drug Abuse

In ‘Dark States: 1. Heroin Town‘ Louis visits a West Virginian community devastated by heroin abuse, with one in ten babies in the city born dependent on opiates and a fatal overdose rate 13 times the national average. Louis spends time with addicts and follows emergency services that are struggling to cope.

Dangerous animals

Louis Theroux spends time with the now well-known Joe Exotic, who has bred and collected over 150 tigers, in his documentary ‘America’s Most Dangerous Pets‘. He also visits a woman who privately owns one of America’s largest collections of chimpanzees and comes in close contact with big cats and other dangerous animals.

Gender Dysphoria

Louis meets children who feel they have been born as the wrong gender in his documentary ‘Transgender Kids‘. Travelling to San Francisco, Louis spends time with children and their families as they negotiate their way along the life-changing journey from boy-to-girl or girl-to-boy, made possible by pioneering medical professionals.

If any of the documentaries sounded particularly interesting to you, you can find them on BBC iPlayer by clicking here.

Written by Sophie Corderoy