A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this science-oriented series -- which discusses the impact that our daily consumption choices have on the planet -- features easy-to-follow explanations that are often presented with a sense of humor (as well as some helpful solutions). Buying organic products is strongly encouraged. Tweens interested in science and the environment will be drawn to the series, but sensitive viewers may find themselves a little overwhelmed by the message that even the smallest choices can ultimately have a major negative impact on the earth.
What's the story?
STUFF HAPPENS is an upbeat, science-oriented series that looks at the far-reaching impact our daily consumption choices have on the planet. Hosted by quirky TV science guru Bill Nye, the show calculates the long-term environmental and financial cost of growing, harvesting, and transporting resources to satisfy consumers. Nye also offers potential solutions to help curb the damage that mass consumption of resources has on the environment.
Is it any good?
Using props, video footage, and interviews with various experts, Nye presents lots of information in a format that's both educational and non-judgmental. By showing how certain foods are grown and how specific animals are raised, the show sheds light on issues like deforestation, the dangers of over-harvesting, and animal exploitation. Nye also defines many of the terms we see on consumer labels today -- like "free-range," "organic," and "free-trade" -- to help well-intentioned consumers understand what they're really purchasing. And although Nye inserts his trademark eccentric humor into the show, he never moves away from the seriousness of his message.
Nye usually recommends purchasing free-trade and organic goods over other products to help alleviate far-reaching environmental issues. But while he makes clear the positive long-term impact of these more eco-conscious purchases, he doesn't play up that angle when it comes to offsetting the potential concerns that budget-conscious consumers have about the higher cost of eco-sensitive products. Still, the show certainly succeeds in demonstrating how our everyday actions can have unintended -- and far-reaching -- consequences on the planet, all in a very nonthreatening way. For tweens and teens interested in science and/or the environment, this show is a great educational choice.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the growing trend to "go green" and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Do you think TV shows like this one will encourage more people to rethink their daily habits and/or make more earth-friendly life changes? How can the media send messages about helping the planet without overwhelming or frightening viewers? Families can also discuss the changes they can make in their own lives to become more environmentally friendly. Are there things that you would stop and/or start buying after watching this series? What other kinds of things can you do to help the planet?