Secrets to Survival

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Secrets to Survival TV Poster Image
Just another survival show; tweens and up.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show's intent is to teach good survival skills. Survivors often express extreme gratitude for life, rescuers, family, etc.


Threats to life and limb by animals, dehydration, accidents, etc. Some disturbing images, like a knife moving across a wrist (imitating a suicide attempt).


Hugs and pecks.


"Crap," "hell," and faux curses like "fricking."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this docudrama series -- like many others of its ilk -- includes potentially frightening stories of life-or-death situations, such as being lost in the jungle for days without food or water. In at least one episode, survivors describe wanting to commit suicide, and one mimics drawing a knife across his wrist. Survivors retelling their ordeals are often extremely emotional. Risks of certain situations are described in detail, and viewers sometimes see snakes, bugs, and more. With the show's emphasis on risk and danger, some younger viewers may feel less inclined to explore their environments after watching.

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What's the story?

In SECRETS TO SURVIVAL, trained stuntman/extreme athlete Troy Hartman retraces the steps of wayward adventurers to learn how they survived their ordeal -- and help teach others skills that can save lives. In one episode, for example, Hartman travels to the Amazon rainforest with a young couple who spent six harrowing days lost in the jungle. With the help of a local guide, Hartman puts himself in their position and tries to escape using only the bare minimum tools: a compass, a pocketknife, and a bottle of water. Survival tips also appear at the bottom of the screen, sometimes in contrast to what's happening on camera. Episodes typically also include facts about how the people in peril actually managed to escape their situation, as well as emotional reunions with rescue workers and others who provided help.

Is it any good?

While several shows do survival stories better, Secrets to Survival is the only one to put an apparent wilderness amateur in dangerous situations, mimicking most tourists' actual experience. Also, the show doesn't attempt to hide the assistance the host receives -- including the camera crew's presence -- as other series do. This may reduce the show's drama, but it ups the realism.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about risk, preparation, and safety. What did the survivors do wrong? What do you think you would have done in the same situation? Have you ever been in a very dangerous situation? How did you handle it? What preparations would have helped the show's survivors? How can you stay safe while still having fun? Does watching shows like this make you feel better or worse about the idea of spending time outdoors/in the wild?

TV details

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