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 series -- in which five tribesmen from a remote South Pacific island tour the United States and experience various American cultural rituals and traditions -- is full of positive messages about peace and cultural sharing (though some of tribesmen's well-intentioned American hosts treat them a bit like adult children). The show's content is pretty mild overall, but mature subjects are occasionally discussed (including gay marriage). There's also some visible drinking and smoking; the tribesmen’s native attire reveals their chest, back, and buttocks, but it's not presented in a sexual context.
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What's the story?
MEET THE NATIVES: USA follows a group of tribesmen from the remote South Pacific island of Tanna, Vanuatu, as they travel across the United States to experience the "tribal customs" of the American people while spreading a message of peace. The five men -- who have all actively chosen to live a traditional island lifestyle -- visit places like Yellowstone, Montana; Orange County, California; and New York City to stay with different families (a.k.a. “tribes”) and learn about rituals ranging from grocery shopping to getting Botox injections. Throughout their journey, the Tanna tribesmen share some of their own native customs and offer personal reflections about what they're experiencing.
Is it any good?
Meet the Natives was born partly out of the Tanna tribe’s desire to pay homage to an American man whom they believe was responsible for bringing peace to their island years ago. The group's voyage also provides a fresh perspective on the different ways that people across the United States live their lives. And the tribesmen offer interesting insights on some of the values that currently dictate the way Americans think about being part of a community, raising children, treating their elders, and dealing with aging.
The sends positive messages about sharing cultural experiences and finding common ground among disparate groups. Watching the Tanna natives do things like touching snow and riding a roller coaster for the first time in their lives is definitely fun, too. But there are some irritating moments, too, especially when the men -- among them a revered tribal chief, a respected medicine man, and a lead tribal dancer -- are treated like adult children by some of their well-meaning American hosts. Still, in the end, the show is an entertaining, perceptive look into what life in America looks like to those who live a world away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it would be like to host people from a remote region of the world. What kinds of things would you want them to experience? What would you want to learn from them?
What would it be like if the roles were reversed, and you stayed with a remote tribe and learned their customs?
Overall, does this show present America positively or negatively?