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 while the violence of life in the wild is softened here, the sometimes-brutal reality of nature is always at play. For example, when a baby lemur is knocked out of a tree by another lemur, viewers don't see the baby hit the ground. But the narrator constantly mentions that the baby's life is in peril because of the resulting injury to his leg. Because the lemurs are cute and furry, young viewers may get emotionally attached -- which can make the inevitable fights and danger harder to watch. Parents may also find themselves starting the "birds and bees" conversation after mating scenes or explaining nature's "survival of the fittest."
What's the story?
Animal Planet has taken the same formula that made Meerkat Manor so compelling and applied it to ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar. But this show doesn't have the soapy angst of its predecessor; if anything, the drama seems more Shakespearean, as two gangs of lemurs duke it out between each other -- and, in the case of the one gang, amongst themselves.
Is it any good?
The show works very well. Obviously, it's impossible not to compare it to Meerkat Manor. Fortunately, it's not a direct copy. LEMUR KINGDOM looks at two rival gangs rather than focusing on one. And humans are seen in this one, partly because the lemurs live so close to a tourist camp. But, ultimately, what makes Lemur Kingdom is the nature of the animals themselves.
This is compelling storytelling, with distinct characters (impressive, considering how alike they all look!). While the realities of foraging for food and dodging predators are emphasized in the narration, the fact that the actual violence isn't shown softens things somewhat. Sensitive younger viewers might find the cliff-hanger episode endings and certain lemurs' fight for survival a tad too intense, especially since this isn't fantasy. But parents can point out how humans are different from lemurs and take the opportunity to talk about what life in the wild is really like.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how nature documentaries are made. It usually takes weeks and weeks to get enough footage to tell even a brief story. Did you know that not all of the action took place at once? Does that bother you? Families can also discuss the circle of life and the way things work in the wild. What must the lemurs do to survive? What challenges do they face, and how do they overcome them?
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