A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The presenter shows curiosity throughout. At times perseverance and courage are also required. Numerous examples of resilience. Corruption, human rights infringements, and a crackdown on freedom of speech are also discussed and shown. The impact of climate change on some areas is revealed.
Positive Role Models
The presenter, Simon Reeve, is eager to learn and understand more about Russia. The people he meets often shown great endurance, be that living and working in extreme weather conditions, or in under-resourced and neglected communities. Police and state officials are often seen to be heavy-handed and there are allegations of corruption and human rights infringements.
The series is presented by a White British male. During his travels he meets people from all over Russia. These include people from different religious, socioeconomic, and ethic backgrounds. Some anti-West sentiments expressed including defaced images of U.S. presidents. Other Russians speak of wanting to be "friends" with the West. Someone speaks of their belief that gay marriage is wrong.
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Violence & Scariness
References to violence, be that in war or criminal activity -- shootings and car bombs. News footage shows bombs going off. Someone describes how they were stabbed and then shows their infected wound. Conversations about terrorist attacks and references to people dying in conflict. People are manhandled and harassed by the police. Swordplay demonstrations. Organized hand-to-hand combat held at a gym, involving kicks, strikes, and body tackles.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief scenes of people in their swim shorts and bikinis on a beach.
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Occasional use of "hell," "screw," "flipping heck," "bloody hell," "nutters," and "poo." "Oh my God" is used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
There is a visit to the biggest casino in Russia, where the presenter is taught to gamble. Numerous references to corruption and large amounts of money being made through illegal means. Visits to grand, lavish buildings. Reference to some people having huge wealth.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Infrequent smoking and drinking. The presenter visits an area that has a huge alcohol problem. People are seen stumbling and collapsed in the street. References to people dying or being severely injured as a result of alcohol. Bootlegged, illegal alcohol is purchased by the presenter but is thrown away. People talk about wanting to give up booze. Fleeting references to drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Russia with Simon Reeve is a three-part travel series filmed in 2017 that explores the world's largest country, highlighting issues such as corruption, alcoholism, and conflict. Notably the documentary was shot five years before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Presenter Simon Reeve meets people from all different backgrounds, showing the diversity within Russia. While they are welcoming and provide insight to the country, many are shown to be living difficult lives. This includes a lack of resources, enduring extreme weather conditions, as well harassment from police and the state. There are multiple references to violence and conflict, and people reflect on loved ones they've lost. Reeve visits a town torn apart by alcoholism. A man living with an alcohol addiction recounts how he was stabbed and shows his infected wound. Some of those Reeve encounters express anti-U.S. sentiments, while others are hopeful of better relations between Russia and the West. The series goes someway to showing the sheer vastness of Russia. Most of the communication between the presenter and the Russian people he meets is subtitled.
Is It Any Good?
Split into three parts, this travel series was shot 100 years after the start of the Russian Revolution. However, with the benefit of hindsight, what's most revealing, and at times frightening, about Russia with Simon Reeve is that it was filmed before COVID and before Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. The latter in particular hangs over the entire documentary. In one scene, Reeve -- who as usual makes for an affable and good-natured tour guide -- reflects on Putin's growing paranoia. Taking to the camera he says, "there's a storm coming," referring to the thunder heard above. But it's also a foreboding warning of what's to come.
While it can make for an eery watch, it's also fascinating to see a country that five years later would be involved in a brutal war with its neighbour Ukraine. Reeve discovers a complex country, full of wealth and poverty, of haves and have nots, of power and corruption. He also does a great job of capturing the sheer size of the country. However, with a country the size of Russia, three episodes doesn't feel enough. As a result, compared to some of Reeve's other adventures, the series can feel disjointed. But for an overview of one of the world's superpowers, there's much to be learned from this introduction to Russia.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.