Over the last few nights, I’ve had the opportunity to watch a great TV series on DVD.
“30 Days” was created by Morgan Spurlock, aping his idea for the smash-hit documentary “Super Size Me.”
Like his “Super” effort of only eating McDonald’s food for 30 Spurlock challenges his show’s participants to take on a challenge for 30 Days.
Among the 30-Day challenges have been:
- Living on Minimum Wage
- Binge Drinking Like a College Student
- Taking Age-Fighting Steroids
- A Mid-Western Christian Lives in the Heart of San Francisco’s “Gayest” Neighborhood
- Another Christian Lives as a Muslim
- Living “Off the Grid.”
Each episode is thought-provoking and many have surprising results. The format, especially those that feature the “Everything You’re Not” scenario, is very similar to “Wife Swap,” but it doesn’t share the exploitative nature of that show.
The first season, now available on DVD, was a mere six, one-hour episodes. Each episode features the primary participant, as well as Spurlock doing voiceover work and adding a few interesting segments of his own.
The participants don’t just sit around for a month doing nothing either, like “Super Size Me” they have rules they’ve got to follow. In the “Minimum Wage” episode, Spurlock and his fiancee, had to get rid of all his credit cards, move to Columbus, Ohio, and start out on Day One with no job and no place to live.
In the “Muslim” episode, the participant had to attend Muslim religious ceremonies, dress appropriately and observe eating customs. Additionally, he took lessons in Arabic and talked with a Muslim cleric on a regular basis. His exchanges with the cleric and his host family were surprisingly honest and really made you see both sides of the issue.
While overall this series is quite thought-provoking, some episodes feel a bit sparse. Perhaps it is that there isn’t enough time to tell the story. Or maybe the topic just isn’t compelling and controversial enough.
Likewise, the show has a definite Liberal spin. I don’t mind that too much, but it’s sure to turn off some viewers who aren’t happy with how the show seems to push toward that agenda.
With the second season wrapping up soon, the best episode was where a member of the Minutemen border-patrolling militia lives with a family of illegal immigrants in East Los Angeles. The Minuteman starts off saying how they should all go home only to become a person who truly cares about the family.
In that episode, the key sequence is when the Minuteman agrees to fly into Mexico to see where the family used to live — a roofless shack with a cesspool for a well.
The Minuteman was choked up by the sight, and I was too.
’30 DAYS’ Season 1 and most of Season 2
Created by Morgan Spurlock
Wednesdays at 10 P.M. EST
Three and One-Half Stars out of Four (Spurlock keeps you watching, but you won’t always be completely satisfied.)