Man Shops Globe

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Man Shops Globe TV Poster Image
Reality show mixes travel with retail promotion.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show focuses on the thrill of the hunt when it comes to finding one-of-a-kind items to sell in stores, spotlighting talented artists who might otherwise not get any exposure. But, ultimately, the company is interested in profits -- although it's a subtly embedded message. The show also encourages viewers to buy what they see.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Johnson is good at what he does; has a keen, creative eye for style; and, for the most part, treats vendors and artisans with respect. But he and his agents have an unspoken shorthand that helps them haggle down prices and keep money in the company's pockets, which could either be viewed as smart ... or overly shrewd. You could also argue that he's exploiting the talents of lesser-known artisans, buying their work at a much lower price than the company will actually sell it for. But he is just doing his job.

Violence
Sex

On rare occasions, an art piece (sculptures, paintings, etc.) includes male or female genitalia.

Language
Consumerism

The show essentially functions as a long-form commercial for the Anthropologie brand, with logos, new products, and shots of store interiors in every episode. The main character spends his time looking for unique items at fair prices that can then be sold at a premium in Anthropologie's U.S. and British stores.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
None, unless you agree with Johnson that shopping is a drug.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Man Shops Globe follows a buyer for the Anthropologie brand (which specializes in high-end women's clothing but also sells antique display pieces and specialty home items) on an extended shopping spree around the world. He wants to get the best deal he can for the company in an effort to boost overall profits (which can sometimes make it feel like he's taking advantage of lesser-known artists), but he'll sometimes spend thousands on an item he really loves, admitting that, to him, shopping is a drug: "People who say that shopping is not a valid high don't know what they're talking about." Thanks to repeated shots of the company's logo, new products, and store displays, the series essentially functions as one long commercial for the Anthropologie brand, even offering information at the end of each episode about featured items available in stores.

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What's the story?

Keith Johnson, a buyer at large for Anthropologie, takes viewers along on shopping trips to exotic locations around the world in MAN SHOPS GLOBE, a Sundance Channel series that shows how the high-end retailer finds unique items for its stores in the United States and Britain. On overseas excursions in France, Turkey, South Africa, England, China, Argentina, Brazil, India, and Scandinavia, Johnson combs crowded flea markets and works with local agents who help him find the next big thing. Each episode finds him in a different country and ends with a follow-up segment that reveals which items ended up in Anthropologie stores.

Is it any good?

If you can get past the fact that Man Shops Globe is basically a glorified Anthropologie commercial, it's a pretty fascinating portrait of how, art, creativity, and capitalism intersect. Johnson finds things that, to the untrained eye, might look like throwaways -- and then either sells them as-is, repurposes them, or has them reproduced for mass distribution. He also finds artists who are creating new and interesting objects and commissions original pieces that ultimately end up in stores -- or, in the case of a chandelier made from recycled materials that he found in South Africa, in the children's room at the White House. (You, too, can buy one for a mere $4,800.)

It's fun to watch Johnson shop. But it's important to remember that this isn't just a shopping spree; it's business, and Anthropologie is profiting from every deal he scores. In one episode, Johnson scours South Africa for new items and finds a rural artisan named Mr. Botha who makes furniture out of reclaimed wood using primitive tools and materials. Johnson falls in love with a particular style of chair and buys three; viewers don't hear how much he pays for them, but we later learn that Anthropologie has ordered as many chairs from Mr. Botha as he can produce in a year (chairs that, based on similar items on the company's website, will sell for about $200 -- or more). It would be interesting to know how much of that money will end up in Mr. Botha's pocket ... but that would probably take all the fun out of it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this series helps promote the Anthropologie brand. Is the sales pitch subtle, or is it selling directly to consumers? Do you think the show will help sell more merchandise?

  • Johnson talks a lot about buying things that will "appeal to the Anthropologie customer." Who is this person? What type of life does he or she lead? How can you tell?

  • Had you ever been inside an Anthropologie store before seeing the show? Does seeing how the company acquires its signature pieces make you feel more positively about the brand or make you want to shop there? Why or why not?

TV details

For kids who love travel

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