America Revealed

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
America Revealed TV Poster Image
U.S. industrial systems are more interesting than you think.

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Positive Messages

The show non-sensationally explores controversial topics like GMO crops and America's dependence on foreign oil, always emphasizing curiosity and human health and safety.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kwon is an engaging and articulate host; many hard-working businesspeople of various types are depicted.

Violence
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Consumerism

Spokespeople from real businesses are often used but few logos appear onscreen.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that America Revealed is a terrific four-part docuseries from PBS. It's a great way to get both kids and adults thinking about basics like food and power that make modern lives possible. Hosted by the engaging Yul Kwon (a past Survivor winner), the series uses compelling and non-disturbing imagery to dive into complex topics such as how grain gets on your plate, or how a wind turbine works. There's a lot of information packed into each show, and younger kids may lose interest or get confused. Older kids or those with a scientific bent will be fascinated at the "how things work" perspective. It's easy to imagine this show sparking a new interest, or even a course of study.

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What's the story?

Each hour-long segment in the four-part PBS series AMERICA REVEALED tackles one large-scale industrial system: food, power, transportation, and manufacturing. It sounds a bit dull, but with arresting visuals like a sweeping view of California's Shasta Dam that morphs into a graphic showing how that dam and others route water to the great farmlands of California's Central Valley, host Yul Kwon illustrates complicated concepts like agricultural irrigation. Though many of the concepts covered are controversial and in the news, like pesticides and GMO crops, the show takes a humanistic/scientific bent and remains apolitical. It does, however, describe situations that may disturb the very sensitive, like the disappearing bee crisis and beef feedlots, though harsh images do not accompany the narration.

Is it any good?

There's a lot of technical information in each show, as Kwon jumps from topic to topic within the larger framework of "food" or "transportation." But the facts being presented are compelling and insider-y, and the imagery pretty enough to hold the attention of those with an interest in the subject matter. It may be a little boring and/or confusing for younger kids, but there is little to upset them here.

Tweens and teens are likely to be very drawn into the subject matter, and may have a lot of questions for parents after watching. America Revealed may spark some interesting, perhaps even uncomfortable conversations, even while it may interest kids in helping to solve some of our country's greatest problems.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issues raised on America Revealed. Does it worry you that America's agricultural system is basically propped up on water borrowed from elsewhere? What type of power system do you think will dominate by the time you're an adult?

  • Is there anything in America Revealed that worries you? Do you think the American "machines" are working well? What problems do you see in our industrial systems of food, transportation, and power? What can your family do to help fix some of these problems?

  • How does America Revealed promote curiosity? Why is this an important character strength?

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