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Last One Standing
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this edutainment series -- which follows Western athletes as they compete in tribal competitions around the world -- includes graphic images of painful initiation rites of passage, dangerous fighting matches, and (non-sexual) indigenous nudity. Some of the cultures' practices may seem extreme from a mainstream American point of view, and the combat can get quite intense. Teens should be able to handle it, but it's a little strong for younger viewers.
What's the story?
Reality series LAST ONE STANDING follows a group of male athletes who travel around the world to compete against remote indigenous tribes -- and each other -- in some of the planet's most physically demanding challenges (most of which have essentially taken the place of tribal warfare). The six men, who hail from the United States and the United Kingdom, are all powerful athletes whose specialties include endurance sports, weightlifting, salsa dancing, kickboxing, cricket, rugby, and more. The Western athletes live and train with their host tribe for weeks to prepare for the strenuous, often dangerous proceedings -- which are considered sacred by the cultures that practice them. The group's physical and mental strength are put to the test while competing in a wide range of events: wrestling in Brazil, stick fighting with Zulu warriors in South Africa, Akikiti kickboxing in Nagaland, and more. They must also endure unfamiliar and sometimes painful pre-game initiation rites of passage designed to test their manhood and qualify them to compete.
Is it any good?
While Last One Standing is certainly educational, its real focus is on how well these good-looking athletes perform alongside tribesmen in their sacred native traditions. And their mere presence at these events raises some ethical concerns, especially since the show was created to entertain Western audiences.
But, to their credit, the athletes embrace the chance to learn more about the cultures they visit. They're clearly humbled by the strength and courage of their indigenous competitors and are honored by the people's willingness to allow them into their lives.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how different cultures view sports and other physical challenges. How did wars evolve into competitions? Is winning a competition like winning a battle? Do women ever participate? Families can also talk about Western participation in indigenous events. Is it exploitative to have outsiders competing in tribal rituals to entertain Western audiences? Why would these communities allow outsiders to participate in events that are sacred to them? How does your own background affect your perspective of other cultures' practices? Can you truly understand a group's traditions without being part of that group?