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Beyond Survival with Les Stroud
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality show -- which follows veteran survival expert Les Stroud as he visits some of the world's few remaining indigenous tribes to see how they've learned to survive in some of the most remote (and often most hostile) parts of the world -- is a great pick for families of older tweens and up. Stroud participates in the tribes' traditional rituals (including hunting and, at times, partaking in some local intoxicants) and documents the fascinating cultures. Stroud’s subjects will seem very, very different to young 21st-century viewers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Veteran outdoorsman Les Stroud has made a career out of demonstrating how to live in the wild; in BEYOND SURVIVAL WITH LES STROUD, he visits some of the world's most remote places to meet indigenous tribes that have perfected those skills over centuries ... and certainly have a few things to teach him. But, despite its name, this is less a show about survival tips and more a look at vanishing cultures. These tribes -- in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, the Kalahari desert, and other isolated locations -- live and hunt using ancient techniques and are often threatened by the encroaching developing world. The show's focus is how these tribes survive in their remote (and often hostile) environments -- how they find food, brave the elements, and fend off dangerous predators -- but the subtext is whether these cultures can survive in the modern world.
Is it any good?
Stroud is at his best when explaining survival skills like hunting, fishing, and trapping. This is his realm, and though he may not know the tribes’ specific techniques, he can discuss how they work and what makes them effective in specific situations. It’s also fun to watch him participate in rarely seen tribal rituals, especially when they require him to use some of the local intoxicants. He’s game for anything, and when he gets dizzy, he lets us know.
But Stroud is a survivalist, not an anthropologist. His descriptions of primitive hunting techniques are interesting and informative, but at other times he does little more than offer play-by-play commentary of what he’s seeing -- which adds little value, since its the same thing the viewers are seeing. His earlier show, Survivorman, focused on his strength: outdoor skills. By focusing on rarely seen tribes, Beyond Survival moves away from Stroud's strength. The indigenous tribes are fascinating, but Stroud’s anthropological analyses aren't always that enlightening.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about indigenous cultures. Do you think these hunter-gather societies live a “purer” lifestyle than our harried, wired lives? Or do you think they would welcome some of the modern conveniences that we take for granted?
Would you want to visit these tribes, even for a brief period, to experience a hunter-gatherer life? How do you think they would react if they visited a modern city?