New Netflix series Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives boasts a perfect Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) critics’ score, but an audience score that’s way down in the 20s.
The documentary series focuses on Sarma Melngailis, who owned the vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine in New York City. Melngailis ended up conned by a man she met on Twitter named Anthony Strangis, going by Shane Fox, into taking money out of her own restaurant and giving it to him after he led her to believe he could fulfill her dreams (including making her dog immortal). The pair, who eventually married, went on the run and were found after taking almost $2 million from the restaurant. Chris Smith, who directed Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and executive produced Tiger King, helms the series.
Tim Surette for TV Guide (opens in new tab) writes: “While most true-crime documentaries rely on the heinous, grisly, and gruesome for kicks, Bad Vegan captures a substantive story with a lesson we can all chew on.”
“Give Bad Vegan this much: It does get right the balance between genuine gawky curiosity about its subject’s travails and sympathy,” says Daniel D’Addario for Variety (opens in new tab), adding: “But the elusiveness of answers about ‘why’ – and the inability, then, to make Bad Vegan about bigger questions about truth or even about the specifics of Melngailis’ world – make the docuseries grow, eventually, frustrating; four hours is a long time to spend running through a specific set of facts with a hard limit as to how far we can explore.”
However, the user score is far below that. “I was frustrated at the beginning of this series. It was obvious what was happening and it felt like the series was dragging rather than getting to the point,” reads one user review, while another reasons: “Could have been done in one 20/20 episode rather than 4+ hours.”
Not everyone is down on the docu-series, though, with one audience member’s five-star review reading: “It had the right mix of intrigue, mystery, pace and great story telling. I enjoyed it so much that I was sad to see it end at 4th episode.”
Bad Vegan is streaming on Netflix now. If you’re all caught up, check out our guide to the best Netflix shows to fill out your watchlist – and if true crime has you curious, see our pieces on where Inventing Anna’s Anna Delvey is now, and what the so-called Tinder Swindler said upon breaking his silence.