Hidden Habitats

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Hidden Habitats TV Poster Image
Beautiful, smart nature documentary has some tense moments.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The series has the educational value of a biology class, taking viewers on virtual field trips to the far reaches -- and great depths -- of the planet to observe unique ecosystems in action. Each episode explores how a habitat's residents adapt to harsh elements and how different species have evolved over time to thrive. In addition to the show's scientific quotient, it incorporates geographical content by using graphics to indicate where each ecosystem exists and how the surrounding climates influence the wildlife there. Concepts such as water current, photosynthesis, primary production, and the food chain are explored as they relate to each habitat's story.

Positive Messages

Viewers get to see stunning footage of many varieties of wildlife in their natural habitats, which inspires a great appreciation for the world's diversity. Although the show doesn't delve into conservation issues, the content is easily related to topics such as rainforest preservation and the reasons for it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The show is dedicated entirely to images and sounds of the hidden habitats it spotlights, so the narrator never appears on-screen. His passion for the subject is evident in the care he gives his narrative, though. 

Violence & Scariness

The show features raw video of life in the wild, so viewers see lots of predatory behavior with an emphasis on how certain creatures have evolved to ensnare or outsmart their prey. From anglerfish that lure food with bioluminescence to land mammals with skills of speed and strength, the hard truths of life in the wild are on full display. Many creatures look scary as well, thanks to large teeth and/or claws, and the host sometimes refers to them as "monsters." 

Sexy Stuff
Language

Rarely "hell" when the content warrants it. For instance, in one segment, the narrator talks about an ocean squid whose name means "vampire squid from hell." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hidden Habitats is a beautifully crafted wildlife documentary series that packs a lot of learning into each episode. As the show's focus changes to a different location, viewers can put what they see into geographical context with on-screen graphics that supplement the videography. Concepts such as "photosynthesis" and "primary production" are incorporated into the narrative in ways that teach without sounding like a text book, and high-definition filming lets viewers see nearly invisible microorganisms in the same fascinating detail as larger creatures. Viewers learn about adaptation, symbiotic relationships, and biodiversity as they relate to vital common elements in each ecosystem that enable life's existence there. Young kids may be wary of scenes that show predatory behavior or animals with particularly menacing features (long teeth, sharp claws, or unique features that trick prey, for instance), but for older kids and parents, this is a smart pick for TV time. 

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What's the story?

HIDDEN HABITATS travels the world to shed light on some of the planet's most unique -- and sheltered -- ecosystems. Narrated by renowned naturalist Steve Backshall, the series brings microworlds to the forefront, introducing viewers to creatures whose value to the natural order belies their size and relative unfamiliarity. From there he explores how different species' symbioses benefits each environment as a whole and how they all adapt to the harsh demands of their habitats. From the depths of the ocean floor to the lush rain forests, this cinematically stunning series will educate and inspire viewers of many ages. 

Is it any good?

Turn on the TV at any time of the day and you're bound to find a nature show of some kind or another in your guide. They're almost as diverse as the natural world they study, but their common focus makes it a challenge for one to truly stand out from the crowd. Hidden Habitats has two very positive things going for it: It has a clear understanding of its intention, and its video footage is so visually appealing it's hard to look away. Put these together and you have the recipe for a memorable nature documentary.

Each episode approaches a different ecosystem with a similar set of questions about how forces of nature impact the existence of the local living creatures and how they adapt to survive. Using this formula, narrator Backshall treats viewers to amazing sightseeing tours while pointing out the common element in every species' survival in their shared ecosystem. It's not only fascinating, it's also packed with educational content related to geography and science and makes for excellent family watching, provided your kids can handle the harsh realities of life in the wild.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the interdependency of all living things. Choose an animal and discuss where in the food chain it would be. What does it rely on for survival? What happens to the rest of the food chain if that animal goes extinct? 

  • Are there any plants or animals without predators? Is that always a good thing? How would an overabundance of one species or another throw off an ecosystem's balance? How would our lives be affected?

  • Families can relate this series to issues of conservation. Kids: What resources are threatened by human consumption? Why are they not renewable at a similar rate to how we use them? Can anything be done to slow down the threat? What can you do in your home and community to help?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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