What is MerPeople about? Netflix documentary series explained

Daisy Phillipson
Mermaid Blixunami in MerPeople on Netflix

MerPeople, a delightfully unusual documentary series about a niche industry, has just dropped on Netflix – so, here’s what it’s about, who’s in it, and if it’s worth watching. 

Mermaids are making a splash right now. Anticipation is building for Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid, which sees Halle Bailey taking on the role of Ariel. 

And now Netflix has dropped an entire docu-series taking a deep dive into the world of professional merpeople – yes, that’s a thing. 

So, with the latest real-life entry now available for streaming, here’s everything you need to know about MerPeople. 

What is MerPeople about?

Directed by Cynthia Wade, MerPeople is a four-part documentary that explores the half-billion dollar mermaiding industry. Telling the story through a group of merpeople at different points in their fin-wearing careers, the series goes beyond the magic, sparkles, and clam bras to demonstrate the highs and lows of those who dedicate their lives to this niche and unique community. 

Check out the trailer below: 

As per the official synopsis: “MerPeople dives into the fascinating world of underwater performers who have turned their love for the mystical sea creatures into real-world careers. 

“From putting on dazzling small-town shows in Florida to the crowning of the King and Queen of the Seas in the Bahamas, this series will take you on a journey of passion and perseverance. Get ready to set sail on an unforgettable voyage and immerse yourself in a world where fantasy becomes reality.”

Throughout the episodes, viewers are introduced to older performers who were once a part of Weeki Wachee Springs, a place where former US Navy officer and stunt swimmer Newton Perry first created a mermaid show all the way back in 1947. MerPeople also speaks to younger merfolk, highlighting the pitfalls of choosing a career that offers little in the way of pay and job security. 

Speaking to Netflix’s Tudum, Wade said: “I was immediately blown away by the breadth and the depth of the mermaid community. The fact that thousands of people around the world of all shapes, sizes, gender expressions, ages, and levels of ability in the water are finding this as a calling is really remarkable.”

The outlet went on to say: “If it all sounds like a deep-sea daydream… well, it is. However, MerPeople is also a story about community, identity, and the desire to find meaning far below the surface – it all just depends on how deep you’re willing to go.”

Who’s in MerPeople?

While MerPeople features a variety of mermaids of all ages and places, there are some key figures to take note of in the series:

  • Mermaid Morgana Alba, the “fairy mer-mother” and founder of Circus Siren Pod, one of the most prestigious mermaid performance troupes in the country
  • Mermaid Chè Monique, a trailblazer who is bringing a new level of diversity to the industry through her size-inclusive mermaiding community, Society of Fat Mermaids
  • Mermaid Blixunami, a “nonbinary merm” who seems destined for stardom, having recorded and produced a music video for their single called Splish Splash on ‘Em (which you can watch below)
  • Mermaid Sparkles, a self-proclaimed “landlocked mermaid” whose passion for the craft has her waiting tables in between taking on local gigs at birthday parties to chase her dreams

In a conversation with Tudum, Chè Monique opened up about the positive impact her community has had on the mermaiding industry, stating: “When I first started, it was hard to find tails that went beyond a 1X. They’re usually made out of a four-way stretch fabric, so I could fit into those. I have seen multiple tail-makers expand their sizing since the Society at Fat Mermaids has popped up.”

Meanwhile, Blixunami said: “One of the biggest misconceptions is that mermaiding is only for girls, or that it’s only for women or gay men. That’s not true. I want people to see my story and be like, ‘If they’re doing it, I can too.’”

Is MerPeople worth watching?

Though it’s too early for a Rotten Tomatoes score, there have been plenty of positive reviews for MerPeople so far. 

The Guardian said the series is “a splash around in the shallows, charming and melancholy by turns, but still a testimony to the endless ingenuity of humanity and how much it yearns to heal itself.”

Elsewhere, Midgard Times commented: “The series succeeds in both educating and entertaining, allowing viewers to gain insight into the motivations and aspirations of these extraordinary performers.”

Leisure Byte added that while the show has its “shortcomings,” it “is so vibrant and beautifully shot that every frame looks like a painting.”

Of the less favorable reviews, CNN wrote: “This docuseries doesn’t work either as train-wreck TV or an anthropological dive into what motivates people to engage in this activity. Based on that and the three-hour viewing commitment, there’s just not enough here to merit making MerPeople part of your world.”

MerPeople is available to stream on Netflix now. You can check out our other upcoming Netflix hubs below:

The Night Agent Season 2 | The Gentlemen | Will there be Firefly Lane Season 3? | Sex Education Season 4 | Beef Season 2 | Monster Season 2 | Will there be Ginny and Georgia Season 3? | Black Mirror Season 6 | All the Light We Cannot See | Stranger Things Season 5 | The Witcher Season 3 | Chicken Run 2 | Heartstopper Season 2 | FUBAR | Florida Man Season 2 | Obsession Season 2 | The Sandman Season 2

About The Author

Daisy is a Senior TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's a lover of all things macabre, whether that be horror, crime, psychological thrillers or all of the above. After graduating with a Masters in Magazine Journalism, she's gone on to write for Digital Spy, LADbible and Little White Lies. You can contact her on daisy.phillipson@dexerto.com