A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Discusses the relationship between being in nature and mental health. Covers the history and facts pertaining to the places visited. Talks about what it's like to live off the grid and explains how artifacts tell stories. Explores some of the travesties of the U.S. government against indigenous peoples and the politics of the dispersion of natural resources.
Expresses gratitude for the outdoors and talks about the mental health benefits of spending time outside: having time to truly think and clear your head, get away from distractions, not being able to run from things, and having to sit with yourself.
Positive Role Models
Host and guests express great gratitude for nature. Features people overcoming obstacles and pushing themselves to do incredible things.
The host is a Black man who says, "Difference is good, I celebrate diversity." He discusses being told that exploring nature wasn't something Black people do. The show explores how the outdoors is getting easier to access for Black people and also features indigenous people and other people of color.
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Violence & Scariness
A man jokes about going to Home Depot during the COVID-19 pandemic to be prepared in case he has to repopulate the earth. People are put in various dangerous situations, including exploring old mines and driving deep into Death Valley. The killing of Ahmaud Arbery is covered. References to America's history of slavery and racial oppression. Stories of the federal government evicting indigenous people from their land and destroying their homes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man mentions not having lovers due to living alone in the wild.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston is a docuseries that explores the diversity of the American wild and the people that live there. The host and featured subjects express a great gratitude for nature and there are many stories of people overcoming obstacles and pushing themselves to do incredible things. The host is a Black man who celebrates diversity and challenges the notion that exploring nature isn't something that Black people do. The exploitation of indigenous people is also addressed. People are shown persevering in various dangerous situations, including exploring old mines and driving deep into Death Valley. The killing of Ahmaud Arbery is discussed. There are references to America's history of slavery and racial oppression as well as stories of the federal government expelling indigenous people from their land and destroying their homes. A man jokes that he's not able to have lovers while living in the wild.
Is It Any Good?
In recent years a national conversation has started around the complicated relationship Black Americans have with nature. But American Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, hosted by author and cultural activist Baratunde Thurston (of Popular Science's Future Of) addresses this, and other racial issues, with a kid-friendly approach few others have mastered. With his upbeat attitude and gentle manner, viewers can't help but want to follow Thurston on his adventures. From Death Valley to rural Idaho, he explores the diversity of the wild as well as the people that make it their homes. His open-minded curiosity leads to illuminating conversations around his subject's traditions and preservation efforts, as well as their people's often painful histories of oppression, exploitation, and relocation. In one particularly moving discussion, Thurston addresses the sense of danger that Black people may experience while spending time outdoors by speaking to a Black ultra-marathon runner about how the death of Ahmaud Arbery (a Black man who was gunned down by three White men while jogging) affected his relationship with his sport. While the slower pace, and sometimes heavy subject matter, may leave younger kids restless, the series is ultimately aspirational. It's a love letter to the American landscape, as well as the American ideals of perseverance and activism, that parents will want to share with their children.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.