I Shouldn't Be Alive: Science of Survival

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
I Shouldn't Be Alive: Science of Survival TV Poster Image
Survival docu has good message, scary moments.

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Kids say

age 11+
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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series is educational rather than exploitative. It offers both scientific and practical information about how to survive deadly situations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the people who find themselves in life-threatening mishaps got there by making mistakes and/or not using appropriate equipment.


Survivors calmly describe frightening moments like jumping from a sinking ship or facing wild animals. One episode discusses people being eaten by sharks, but it only shows clips of shark feeding frenzies. Open wounds and other injuries are visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series, which is a spin-off of the survival docu I Shouldn't Be Alive, features stories about people who've lived through life-threatening situations. The series is more educational than exploitative, but it does include some descriptions and reenactments of events that could be disturbing and/or frightening to kids or sensitive viewers. The fact that the show's survival experts offer both scientific and practical information about how to stay alive in similar circumstances may calm some nerves.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byEarthgirl13 May 1, 2010

Perfect for tweens

It's scary and sad but so thrillng and exciting

What's the story?

I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE: SCIENCE OF SURVIVAL revisits the harrowing stories originally featured in the docuseries I Shouldn't Be Alive. Going one step beyond its parent series, the show offers viewers scientific explanations and practical information on how to survive if they ever find themselves in a similar life-threatening situation. With the help of survival specialists Les Stroud, Capt. Myke Hawke, Phil West, and Ross McFadyen, the show also offers viewers tips on how to avoid other precarious situations and guidelines on what to do in the event that things do go terribly wrong.

Is it any good?

Overall, the series is educational rather than exploitative. Each expert subjects himself to some of the harsh conditions described by survivors in order to demonstrate the various, sometimes creative ways that people can stay alive until being rescued. The experts show how to find life-sustaining nourishment, create drinkable water, avoid dangerous creatures, and stay protected from the elements. But their best lessons are about being prepared for emergencies before going on the road, hiking up a mountain, or sailing out to open sea. Also valuable is the reminder to stay calm and take a second to think about how to proceed, rather than panicking or acting instinctively.

Science of Survival reminds viewers that while no one expects to end up fighting for their life, those who live through perilous situations usually have a little knowledge, some imagination, and a strong will to live. It's a great message, but younger and/or more sensitive viewers may find it a little hard to grasp due to some of the show's upsetting (and sometimes frightening) reenactments. Also potentially disturbing are the discussions of some of the lethal mistakes people have made in dangerous circumstances. But for those who can handle it, the show has a lot to offer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the media's role in preparing people for emergencies and unexpected situations. Can TV, the radio, and the Internet help people cope with or avoid tragic events? How can shows like this one educate viewers without exploiting the survivors' stories? Families can also discuss making difficult choices in dangerous situations. Can you ever be sure you're making the right choices in a life-or-death scenario? Would you have made the same choices as the people on the show?

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