The Fyre Fest Was Such A Mess, It Really Did Need Two Documentaries

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
In 2017, there was no viral moment that captured the world quite like Fyre Fest. It couldn't have come at a more apt moment in history — a bunch of men with too much money taking on more than they could handle, resulting in disaster? Why does that sound familiar?
To distract ourselves from Donald Trump's newly-minted presidency, we could instead relish in the demise of at least a different power-hungry buffoon: Billy McFarland. The 28-year-old is currently serving six years in prison for for defrauding Fyre Fest investors and ticket holders and later selling $100,000 of fake tickets to exclusive events like the Met Gala and Grammys. In the span of one week, both Hulu and Netflix dropped their own take on the disaster in the form of separate documentaries. Together, however, they give the full, horrific picture.
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Hulu dropped Fyre Fraud a few days before Netflix's documentary, Fyre, but the key elements of the documentaries are the same. Both use the same footage from the same handful of influencers who documented their time at Fyre Fest on social media; both feature Seth Crossno, who successfully sued McFarland, as well as Calvin Wells, who was instrumental in exposing Fyre Fest; and both speak to the Bahamas-based employees who worked on the Fest, arguably the ones who suffered the worst blow from McFarland's negligence.
But Hulu's Fyre Fraud has things Netflix's does not — mainly, McFarland himself. Hulu paid the creator $250,000 to be interviewed, according to The Ringer, but the doc doesn't take his words at face value. It actively refutes any lies McFarland spouts. The organizer, unsurprisingly, has plenty to spare.
Other than the big guy himself, Hulu's project focuses more on the voices around the festival, with additional commentary from reporters like the New Yorker's Jia Tolentino and Bloomberg's Polly Mosendz. The Hulu documentary analyzes the debacle from the perspective of millennial culture and influencers as a whole. However, if you want first-hand footage of the disaster unfolding, turn to Netflix.
Netflix's Fyre comes with a grain of salt: It's produced by Jerry Media, the same company that was responsible for Fyre Fest's promotion. While this means there's some inevitable bias in the doc — everyone is quick to say it's not their fault — it also has access that Hulu's does not. McFarland had people filming every second of Fyre's creation, as well as its downfall. Do you want to see behind-the-scenes footage of models like Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin on the island? Netflix has it. First-hand accounts of those involved in the festival, including one employee who was instructed to perform oral sex (and almost did!) in order to get rid of a customs fee? Netflix has that. A shot of McFarland pacing as he realizes everything has almost literally gone up in flames? Netflix has that, too.
The docs, arriving in the same week and on dueling streaming platforms, are posed as competitors. In reality, though, they're complements, filling in the blank spaces that the other left behind. Fyre Fest was really that crazy. One perspective is not enough when it comes how this happened, even if the answer ends up being relatively simple: McFarland said he had money when he didn't, and his ability to convince people of that backfired in perhaps the biggest way in recorded history. Well, the biggest way in recorded history so far...
Fyre Fraud on Hulu and Fyre on Netflix are available for streaming now.
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