Netflix's The Man with 1,000 Kids branded 'chilling, grim and disturbing' by critics

The latest shocking documentary from the streaming service gets the critics' approval - but they're still uneasy about it.

 Eve Wiley in The Man With 1000 Children .Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
The Man with 1,000 Kids has been called 'chilling' by critics. (Netflix)

Netflix's latest jaw-dropping docuseries, The Man with 1,000 Kids, tells the story of serial sperm donor Jonathan Jacob Meijer and the chaos he has caused for those yearning to have a baby.

Dutch musician Meijer donated sperm to women around the world desperate to become mothers, with many of them saying they feel tricked because they had been led to believe he only intended to father five to 10 children.

In actual fact Meijer is thought to have fathered upwards of 600 children - no one knows the true number - and has been banned by the Dutch courts from donating any more sperm.

Kate and Laura in The Man With 1000 Children. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
Parents have described their worries at finding out the extent of Meijer's donations. (Netflix)

Some of the worried parents in the documentary describe having met other very similar children at their nursery who turned out to have the same father, while others detail their concerns that their children could inadvertently end up in a relationship with a half-sibling in the future.

As for Meijer, he declined to be a part of the Netflix series but has since spoken to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, claiming that the documentary is "deliberately deceiving and misleading".

Although critics generally thought the documentary was a good one, they were left feeling disturbed by its content.

The Guardian's Lucy Mangan says: "Another week, another entrant in Netflix’s unofficially but accurately titled (by me) category of shows 'Why Don’t We Just Raze Human Civilisation to the Ground and Start Again, or Hand It Over to the Monkeys and See If They Can Manage Any Better?'"

Meanwhile, Anita Singh writes for The Telegraph: "The film-makers try too hard to turn this into a Tinder Swindler-style tale of women exacting revenge, and there is a late twist. But even without that it’s a decent tale that prompts bigger questions about the donor industry."

Vicky Jessop at the Evening Standard writes: "This is a story to chill the blood: a cautionary tale about the perils of the modern age."

She adds: "It’s undoubtedly fascinating viewing, albeit in a very grim way – and the revelations about sperm donation (and Meijers’ way of doing it) horrifying. Is showing the documentary even the ethical thing to do, given the way it highlights the loopholes in the sperm donation industry?"

Writing for CNN, Brian Lowry says: "Like so many of these sensational documentaries...The Man With 1000 Kids raises questions about the fertility industry, and its regulation, that go beyond individual cases to consider ethical and logistical concerns through an extreme lens.

"While the numbers might not be completely accurate, in terms of appealing to an audience weaned on sensational titles like The Tinder Swindler and similar fare, this feels right on target."

 Suzanne and Natalie in The Man With 1000 Children .Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
The Man with 1,000 Kids includes some of the many women Meijer donated to. (Netflix)

The i's Neil Armstrong writes: "This is a gripping, disturbing documentary. It makes some shocking allegations about Meijer’s deceptions...However, we never really learn very much about Meijer or his real motivations. Unsurprisingly, he did not participate in the documentary.

"The film-makers went with the nice round figure of “1,000” for the title, but how many children did Meijer really father? Six hundred is a number suggested at the end of the documentary but other estimates put it as high as 3,000. The truth is, worryingly, that no one really knows."

The Man with 1,000 Kids streams on Netflix.