A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Good information about bears and their habitats. There are, however, cubs let into the wild by non-scientists in Russia, and the narrator "hopes" that they will survive.
Survival requires knowledge of the seasons and the behavior of other animals.
Positive Role Models
Mother bears care for their young for several years, showing them how to survive in the wild. Females are portrayed as important caregivers.
Violence & Scariness
Bears are shown fighting and mauling one another. Bears eat carcasses, picking through the skin to get to the intestines and muscle. Male bears stalk females to mate with them. Dead bear cubs are shown as the narrator shares the fact that 20% of bear cubs are killed by older males.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A male bear stalks a female bear while she is bathing and after winning a fight with another male bear, is shown mounting and mating with the female. This scene is shown from a few angles. The narrator humanizes the behavior, saying that the "attractive female" is taking a bath and that when she refuses the bear's aggressive advances, that this is "foreplay" for bears.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Brown Bears - Teddy Bear Picnic is a documentary about bears that shows fighting, mauling each other, dead bear cubs and other dead animals, and sexual activity between bears. It's not as innocent as the title might suggest. The narrator humanizes and objectifies a female bear who is bathing, saying that "a beautiful young lady is quite a draw." Her suitor is "admiring the bather from the safety of the bushes." After a tooth and claw fight with a rival suitor, the winning male "confidently turns on the charm," and pursues her in the woods. Before he mates with her, the narrator says: "Finally the female is ready to give him what he wants." The mating takes place under the observation of the camera, and is shown in different angles and speeds. Then "the female is on her own," because male bears "play no parental role." When male and female bears fight, according to the narrator, it's called "foreplay." A pair of Russian men have brought bear cubs in cages to a remote island to release them in hopes that they will survive. There is no scientific rhyme or reason for this, and the documentary keeps checking in on the cubs, saying, "hopefully they'll adapt."
Is It Any Good?
This visually interesting, but oddly curated documentary show can't really be taken seriously. In Brown Bears - Teddy Bear Picnic, a mother bear emerges from a cave, shaking off a winters' sleep with a cub in tow. Though she's hungry and hankering for food, the mother bear takes the time to nurse her cub before going on the hunt for sustenance. This is all well and good. But her peer, a younger bear, is being stalked by a young male bear as she bathes in a lake. Thanks to the creepy narration sequence, the natural order of things -- animals in the wild do mate and reproduce, after all -- is sexualized in a way that raises red flags.
Another questionable interpretation occurs when men transporting two cages of baby cubs land on an island to release the cubs into the wild. They drop some apples and fish in hopes that the cubs will learn how to eat on their own. There is no plan for these animals -- just a drop off and maybe a check in later. "Hopefully they'll adapt," the narrator says. Such haphazard behavior makes this feel like less of a documentary show and more of a circus.
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.