Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World
By Ashley Moulton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sobering global warming docu highlights climate science.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Teaches about the science behind global warming, and also about activism and government.
It's important to stand up for what you believe in, even if it's difficult or uncomfortable.
Positive Role Models
Greta Thunberg is an excellent example of someone fighting for what they believe is right. She's a great representation of a powerful girl who doesn't back down, as well as someone that talks openly about being on the autism spectrum. It also does a great job highlighting a diverse group of climate change science experts.
Violence & Scariness
Some scary news footage including an intense scene of people fleeing a wildfire, as well as mention that several people died by suicide in the wake of the fire. Discussion of how Thunberg and her family have received death threats as a result of her activism, and examples of mean things people have said about her both online and in the real world.
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No cursing, but examples of hostile language against Thunberg (such as "kill yourself") are shown in on-screen text.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World is a 3-part documentary series about the teenage climate activist. While Thunberg herself is a great role model for all kids, some adult themes make this documentary best suited for older ones. There are some intense scenes, including news footage of people trying to escape a wildfire and an interviewee who talks about how several people died by suicide in the aftermath of the fire. There's no actual cursing, but there is a bit of hostile language aimed at Thunberg. She talks about how she and her family have received death threats, and one scene shows online comments such as "kill yourself" on screen. It's aimed at an adult audience, but teenagers with an interest in activism or the environment will likely find Greta's message compelling.
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Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World
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What's the Story?
In Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World, cameras follow the climate activist as she embarks on a year-long tour to study climate change and educate the public. She and her dad travel around the world using environmentally-friendly transport like electric cars or sailboats instead of airplanes. During their travels, Thunberg visits stunningly beautiful natural landscapes impacted by climate change like Canada's Jasper National Park. In each location, she talks to a climate science expert, and helps viewers understand parts of the global warming puzzle. The documentary also shows some intimate behind-the-scenes moments of Greta and her dad. She talks about the tremendous amount of responsibility she feels, and how her work has forced her to put a lot of normal teenage life on hold. Thunberg also candidly talks about being in the public eye, and how being on the autism spectrum makes it difficult to be surrounded by so many people. By the end of her year-long travels, the Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world, and she expresses frustration that the world hasn't united to face the climate disaster in a similar way.
Is It Any Good?
This solid and sobering docuseries is a testament to Thunberg and other climate activists' tremendous resolve. It doesn't not shy away from the reality of the current climate situation. Many adults may remember the takeaway of Al Gore's 2006 global warming manifesto An Inconvenient Truth as individuals needing to take small actions, like replacing lightbulbs or using less plastic. 15 years later, Thunberg emphasizes that the only real way to impact the changing climate is to convince politicians and corporation owners to make big changes.
Teens interested in the science behind climate change will likely learn a lot from this documentary series. They'll enjoy seeing the incredible nature cinematography, though the documentary is paced somewhat slowly. The series does offer a window into her personal life, but I Am Greta may be more interesting to those wanting to learn more about Greta's activism and less about the science. The series may inspire some teens to take action, but it also shares very dark possibilities about the future. But, perhaps we can all find solace in one of Thunberg's closing statements: "Hope is telling it like it is, and for me hope is not saying everything will be alright. For me hope is what gets you to feel meaning and for you to get up and fight for what you believe is right."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Thunberg's courage. Do you think you could be brave enough to do activist work, even if it meant people would say bad things about you, or it would make your life difficult? Are there any issues that inspire you to feel brave enough to speak out about?
Greta says, "For reasons I don't understand, people listen when I talk." Why do you think the way she communicates inspires other people to take action?
Thunberg knows a lot about climate science, but she is continually reading more and meeting with experts to learn even more. How do you think she stays curious?
- Premiere date: April 22, 2021
- Cast: Greta Thunberg
- Network: PBS
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Activism, STEM, Great Girl Role Models, Science and Nature
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Curiosity, Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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.
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