A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The host is unfailingly respectful of the tribes' unique customs, which may seem barbaric or bizarre to Western viewers. He subjects himself to the rituals so he'll be accepted within the tribe and explains in detail the beliefs that lie behind them. Tribal gender roles are usually pre-determined and traditional (women cook and raise kids, men hunt and gather), but all are essential to the group's survival.
Violence & Scariness
Many scenes center on hunting practices; weapons ranging from traditional blow pipes to rifles, and animals are killed and dismembered onscreen. Ritualistic violence (cutting, body piercing, whipping) among tribe members can be graphic and sometimes includes scenes of these practices used on small children.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
As with most documentaries centering on indigenous tribal cultures, there's always the possibility of both male and female nudity. In one episode, for example, men are shown naked from behind as they bathe, and a woman's breasts are exposed briefly. But none of it has any sexual overtones.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Various drugs (or, more precisely, poisons) sometimes play a part in rituals. In one tribe, for example, poisonous frog secretions are sent into men's blood streams to induce vomiting and diarrhea to cleanse the body before hunting.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this eye-opening documentary series is probably too intense for kids or sensitive tweens -- though teens and adults will gain new perspectives on the world's many tribal cultures. The host subjects himself to various tribes' traditional rituals, which are often painful (body piercing, the application of stinging eye drops, etc.) and could be misunderstood by viewers who don't know their background. In many cases, the ritualistic violence -- which is sometimes inflicted forcibly on kids -- can be upsetting for adult viewers, too. Hunting practices and the preparation of animals for cooking (butchering and dismembering them) are also shown.
Is It Any Good?
In some cases, Parry's acceptance as an equal comes at a hefty price. For example, while living among the Matis people of the Amazon River basin in Brazil, Parry bravely faces four traditional pre-hunting practices, including exposure to a frog poison that induces violent vomiting and diarrhea (to strengthen the body) and subjection to whipping with long reeds (to prevent laziness). His dedication to the project remains unwavering in the face of even the most daunting rituals.
Thanks mostly to Parry's thoroughness, Going Tribal gives viewers an honest -- and often surprising -- glimpse at the diversity of cultures in the remotest corners of the world. But while there's a lot of perspective to be gained by watching this intriguing series, know that it carries a "mature content" disclaimer for a reason. From hunting practices to painful rituals, violence in various forms is common -- and occasionally even pregnant women and kids are subjected to it. Nudity is also a possibility (though never in a sexual manner), and the tribes' outdoor life includes references to harsh weather, unusual dietary choices (monkeys, reindeer, etc.) and natural predators (like some awfully big bugs).
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