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30 Days

Opening minds, one month at a time. Teens and up.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series' primary goal is to open minds to new ideas and behaviors. Some participants react badly to being outside their comfort zone, and many stubbornly cling to their preconceptions and/or react confrontationally to others, but the overarching structure is all about changing society for the better. Empathy is a major theme.

Positive role models

The series features a wide variety of real, flawed people; all are willing to try something different, but they react in all kinds of ways. Some are very eager to learn about other people, places, and worldviews, while others are more rigid. Some episodes feature iffy behavior like binge drinking.


Plenty of hostility and angry confrontation, but no physical violence to speak of.


Varies according to episode topic, but, in general, not much to worry about beyond the occasional skimpy outfit and relationship discussion.


"Hell," "goddamn," etc. Stronger words are bleeped.


At least one episode is designed to raise awareness about over-consumption and materialism.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Varies widely depending on the episode; one is entirely focused on binge drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 30 Days is a thought-provoking reality series created by Morgan Spurlock, the director of Super Size Me, and follows in the documentary's footsteps by dissecting issues that face Americans every day. The show tackles some very controversial topics, including illegal immigration, job outsourcing, abortion, poverty, religion, and sexuality. As a result, most episodes feature plenty of confrontational exchanges as participants are forced to re-examine their personal beliefs and behaviors; some of the spirited "discussion" may make sensitive kids uncomfortable. But teens could learn a lot by watching -- particularly the importance of taking a close, objective look at your own values and world view.

What's the story?

Documentarian Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) tackles societal issues like poverty, alcoholism, sexuality, religion, illegal immigration, job outsourcing, crime, over-consumption, and abortion for his reality series 30 DAYS. In each episode, Spurlock follows a mostly average American who agrees to take part in a social experiment: Live outside your comfort zone for a month and see what happens. Hence, a conservative straight man from the Midwest moves in with a gay man in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, an atheist bunks with a Christian, a pro-choice believer lives at a pro-life maternity home, two materialistic Manhattanites roll up their sleeves at a sustainable eco-village, and so on. Spurlock even signs himself up for duty, living on minimum wage and behind bars for a month at a time.

Is it any good?


Unlike many reality shows, which place people in uncomfortable situations just to incite petty drama and bickering, this show's lifestyle upheaval has a purpose. By putting real-life human faces on controversial topics, 30 Days aims to open participants' minds to all sides of an issue, hopefully bringing them closer to an understanding of how "the other side" lives. Obviously, by its very nature, the show encourages controversy and debate, and many episodes feature shouting matches and angry confrontations. That, combined with the edginess and complexity of the issues themselves, makes the show a better fit for teens -- who will find it eye-opening, no matter what side of a given topic they sympathize with -- than for younger viewers.

The series definitely leans to the left, and not all episodes are as worthwhile as the others -- for example, the ones that dealt with binge drinking and extreme anti-aging procedures came off as fluffy and, especially in the latter case, vain -- but overall 30 Days is mature, thought-provoking television.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the issues covered in each episode of 30 Days (there's certainly no lack of discussion fodder in this series, given the topics it takes on). How did the participants' beliefs change over the course of the episode? Was either side completely right or wrong?

  • What did the participants learn from each other? What did you learn by watching them interact?

  • Can teens think of a situation that would take them as completely outside of their own comfort zone as the people on the show? How do they think they'd react?

  • Do you think shows like this can change society on a broad scale, or just one individual at a time? Is 30 days enough time to really make a difference in someone's core beliefs?

  • How does 30 Days promote empathy? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

Premiere date:June 15, 2005
Cast:Morgan Spurlock
Networks:FX, Planet Green
Genre:Reality TV
Character strengths:Empathy
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of 30 Days was written by

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Adult Written bymzkat7 April 9, 2008

Show Definatly not for Cable..Needed to be on HBO

I am mortified at how it is so easy for the film industry to take the F word out of there filming so that it doesn't offend anyone. When the real culprit is that they so freely give blessing to GD as if it is okay to say the Lords name in vain. Some networks have even bleeped Damn but left God so you know just exactly what they said.. what is that?? My family, all 3 of our households, have made a pact, as soon as the GD word is spoken on a tv show, we turn it or delete it. Even at movies, we walk out.. My other complaint with this show is that on the first show I saw, the writer was trying to live on minimum wage. The problem was, however, he didn't. He got a job making 7 bucks an hour and who knows what his girlfriend was making and then he went on to get a higher paying job, and then was working two.. that is a disgrace to those of us who "are" budgeting $1200 dollars a month and having to make it work..I agree with his concept.. Things need to change.. but buddy..stop whining. You had all kinds of free stuff given to you and free meals.. I can't remember the last time I had a free piece of furniture or someone standing their to hand out food with a smile on their face..
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Teen, 17 years old Written byhi here July 21, 2010
okay ................... do anyone know what a TV-MA rating means? It is not for kids under 17!