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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Origins: The Journey of Humankind is a miniseries that shares stories of human history, focusing on momentous milestones like the harnessing of fire and the evolution of language. Its often graphic historical re-enactments aren't for kids, but its intriguing claims about significant events driving the course of human history will interest some teens and adults. The series chronicles human progress as it was influenced by eight different factors, each of which provides the theme for one episode of this eight-part show. It's a thought-provoking way to view history, but it requires some familiarity with notable events and people to put into full context the show's assertions about their significance to the overall human experience.
What's the story?
In ORIGINS: THE JOURNEY OF HUMANKIND, philosopher and host Jason Silva leads viewers through a retrospective of human history, focusing on momentous milestones like the harnessing of fire and the evolution of language. Each episode of the eight-part series focuses on a single element -- like the creation of language and advances in life-saving medical practices -- in homo sapiens' journey from earliest origins to the modern era. Live-action recreations illustrate Silva's assertions about the significant role these particular factors played in getting us where we are today.
Is it any good?
This intense educational series is a fascinating journey through human history that backs its assertions regarding the significance of innovations with solid evidence. Each episode plays out like a dissertation adapted to the screen, as Silva outlines the overriding theme and re-enactments put the concepts into action. By focusing on one dominant influence in each episode, the show makes connections between seemingly unrelated advances to trace the path to the modern human experience.
Despite its hefty learning potential, though, families should consider the graphic nature of Origins' content before watching as a family. Because the show strives for (and, for the most part, manages impressively) realistic interpretations of historical events, scenes of war, tragedy, illness, injury, and death are only minimally amended, so the full range of emotion and physical catastrophe is on display. For curious families with teens and mature tweens, though, this unique series is a revealing journey into human history.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the educational quality of shows like Origins: The Journey of Humankind. How can a TV show or movie teach in a way books can't? How can we be certain of their validity?
To what degree is our impression of history shaped by our individual experience? Is it always true that history is written by the winners of conflict? Is this necessarily a bad thing?
Was perseverance an active motivation for people throughout history, or was personal survival the lone impulse? What evidence do you see for either argument in this series? What other character strengths have helped humanity over the years?
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