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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Discovery Channel series Serengeti features breathtaking video footage of a range of animals living on the Serengeti plain. Their day-to-day lives are presented as dramatic stories, which makes them appear to have human traits. There are some violent moments thanks to animals hunting, killing, and being territorial, and discussions about mating practices.
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What's the story?
The six-part series SERENGETI is a dramatization of the lives of the animals living on the Serengeti plain of Tanzania. Narrated by Lupita Nyong'o (and narrated by John Boyega in the United Kingdom), it presents a wide range of family-themed storylines that feature different species living their day-to-day lives. From watching Kali, a lioness who has had cubs outside of her pride, trying to protect her family on her own, to watching Timbo the young elephant mope as his mother Nala focuses her attention on his newborn baby brother, the series offers compelling tales that underscore parallels between animal and human emotions and behavior.
Is it any good?
This visually stunning series creates dramatic stories, assigning animals human traits and creating plots about the relationships between them. Specific animals are molded into characters, and this, combined with the musical score and the way the year's worth of video footage is edited, helps produce this vivid story world. It's often more entertaining than educational, and sometimes feels like it is attempting to motivate future support for African conservation efforts. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are moments when the emotions being assigned to the animals occasionally seem a bit over the top. Nonetheless, Serengeti is compelling, and offers charm, tension, and interesting moments that will captivate audiences of all ages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different ways films and TV shows anthropomorphize animals. Do animals have to appear to take on human traits in order to make the programming relatable? Is it more or less entertaining when this happens?
What is it that viewers are supposed to take away from the Serengeti series? Is it information about how the animals live (and die) on the plain? Or is it about how human their behavior seems to be?
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