First Peoples

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
First Peoples TV Poster Image
Slow docuseries uncovers new clues to human evolution.

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age 18+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Scientists from around the world set out to discover the origins of humanity and the extent to which we're all genetically connected. The show illustrates how experts in different disciplines work together toward a common goal.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The scientists cooperate, share ideas and theories, and acknowledge their mistakes as part of the learning process.


Reenactors are shown with traditional weapons such as spears. Bones and skeletons are visible.


Scientists talk of "breeding" and "inbreeding." Some scenes show indigenous people in traditional clothing such as loincloths.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that First Peoples is an educational series in which archaeologists, anthropologists, and scientists piece together clues to the evolution of humanity and our eventual dominance over other species. The story is intriguing but slow to develop, despite its use of reenactors and its changes of location, and the content is occasionally heavy on technical terms related to the field of genetics. Expect to hear a lot about breeding and inbreeding and see some traditional attire (loincloths on men, for instance) and weapons (spears, bows and arrows) in this story about migration and the genetic combinations that led us to this point in history. 

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Kid, 11 years old September 8, 2020



What's the story?

FIRST PEOPLES follows a team of historians and scientists as they attempt to determine how and when humanity became the planet's dominant species. Using cutting-edge DNA analysis and new archaeological discoveries about migratory patterns throughout the world, these experts are rewriting the story of mankind's evolution and gaining a better understanding of our genetic links to ancient peoples.

Is it any good?

This five-part docuseries visits Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Americas to observe these experts' work in the field of evolutionary science. Each location presents scientists with new migratory evidence to analyze and new theories to ponder, giving viewers a ringside seat for the illuminating discovery process and its eventual breakthroughs, not to mention plenty of opportunity to learn something new in this field.

But archaeology is a practice in patience, and First Peoples is evidence that even with costumed reenactors to bridge the gaps between action, watching archaeological findings evolve is a slow business. Adults and teens with a particular interest in this subject will enjoy the show's thoroughness, but younger viewers and others will find it laborious to watch. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how scientific discoveries alter our awareness of the past and our impressions of the future. Is it reasonable to think we'll ever have all the answers we're seeking? What value is there in studying events from so long ago? 

  • Which genetic similarities do all modern people share? Conversely, how have we evolved to be successful in our unique geographic regions? What is meant by the phrase "nature versus nurture"? Does this show make an argument for either? 

  • Teens: Which parts of math and science are your favorites? Could you see yourself in a career that uses these kinds of skills? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history and science

Themes & Topics

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