Skip to Content

‘The Man With 1000 Kids’ adds up to Netflix’s latest docuseries nightmare

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — Netflix has enjoyed success with a certain kind of nightmare-fuel docuseries that strains various aspects of society through fun-house mirrors. “The Man With 1000 Kids” fits right in, down to the title, although the headline on the New York Times article that preceded this UK production, “The Case of the Serial Sperm Donor,” surely would have worked equally well.

The chosen title does have the advantage of evoking a movie, “Man of a Thousand Faces,” a biography of the silent-film star and horror staple Lon Chaney. It is also imprecise, or at best an estimate, since as the Times reported, the actual number of children fathered by Jonathan Jacob Meijer, a Dutch musician, “is impossible to say,” with a Dutch organization stating the total “could run to several hundred, even 1,000,” while Meijer put the figure at “approximately 250.”

Whatever the math, the bottom line of the story is certainly attention-getting: Meijer agreed to provide sperm to a number of families, outside of conventional donation channels as well as through traditional ones, leaving parents feeling misled and outraged, betrayed and defrauded, upon learning the truth.

Meijer also traveled the world, providing donations in multiple countries, making a full count of the children with his DNA extraordinarily difficult to obtain. Lacking many options to take action, the parents finally went to court, seeking to prevent him from donating to anyone else.

Produced by the makers of “Lover, Stalker, Killer,” “The Man With 1000 Kids” begins in almost whimsical fashion, interviewing various parents – from single mothers to lesbian couples to a man who, after his second marriage, couldn’t have his vasectomy reversed – who found Meijer online, liked the image he presented and availed themselves of his services.

Eventually, though, enthusiasm gave way to rising anger and efforts to stop him, as well as plenty of questions, still largely speculative, about what motivated him and others to far exceed established donor guidelines. (Meijer declined to participate in the documentary but told the Times in 2021 that his goal was “to help parents with realizing their dream.”)

Like so many of these sensational documentaries – including “Our Father,” a Netflix project about an Indiana fertility specialist who used his own sperm to inseminate patients, or HBO’s “Baby God” – “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.

“The Man With 1000 Kids” premieres July 3 on Netflix.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Entertainment

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content