Sail Away

TV review by
KJ Dell Antonia, Common Sense Media
Sail Away TV Poster Image
Sails, sunsets, no sex in teen Real World.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Kids from different backgrounds learn to work together; strong environmental message.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that any kid with half a sense of adventure will long to set out for the Bahamas after watching a single episode. Both sexes and kids from a variety of backgrounds work together here with little conflict or judgment.

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What's the story?

SAIL AWAY is a reality series that's well done and perfect for family viewing. Eight 13- and 14-year-olds spend five weeks sailing the seas around the Bahamas with two adults. They learn to sail, cook, work together, enjoy the outdoors, and conquer homesickness, plus get a few lessons in basic environmentalism. The setting is beautiful, the kids appealing and enthusiastic (when they're not battling sunburn and homesickness). All in all, it's a perfect \"reality\" television fantasy.

Is it any good?

In what's become the classic reality tradition, one participant faces some battle -- usually with fear or homesickness -- in each episode. All the kids talk to the camera about the things they're learning -- independence, outdoor skills -- and the fears or struggles they're willing to admit to. The adults talk about what they hope the kids are getting from the experience. Two kids narrate, providing continuity and explanation for younger viewers. Camera confessionals are interspersed between water and beach adventures that will make the entire family long for a Bahaman vacation -- swimming with whales, sleeping on the beach -- and a few that won't -- sailing through the rain, sleeping in tiny boat bunks.

It's not all a picnic, although it is a somewhat whitewashed adventure -- these filmmakers aren't out to take advantage of the kids by lingering on conflicts or highlighting their less-appealing qualities to create a personal growth arc. The kids clearly come from different backgrounds, probably fairly significant differences in some cases, but that's not exploited, either. The kids grow to work together and learn about the environment in a fairly simple way that makes for entertaining family television.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the kids on the show feel about spending five weeks away from their own families -- and whether the kids in your family would like to do the same. What struggle did the featured teen face in this episode? What could have made him or her feel better? Is it OK to give up and go home? When? Some episodes also raise environmental concerns, such as the need to preserve the coral reef, which make good discussion topics.

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