The Grizzly Man Diaries

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
The Grizzly Man Diaries TV Poster Image
Bear series is much tamer than Herzog docu.

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

Positive Messages

The show is a fascinating look at the social hierarchy of wild grizzly bears. It also examines Treadwell, an untrained naturalist who chose to spend much of his life living among the bears. The series raises plenty of questions about Treadwell's motivations and judgment.

Violence & Scariness

The series often shows wild animals hunting for food, a natural process that can sometimes be somewhat gruesome. Treadwell is in very close proximity to wild grizzly bears almost constantly, and the animals often seem as if they're trying to intimidate him. During such moments, it's hard to ignore the fact that -- if you know his story -- eventually he'll be attacked and killed by one of them.

Sexy Stuff

Some words are bleeped.


Treadwell has become something of a commodity since his death, as an author, photographer, and the subject of a Werner Herzog documentary and now this series. As such, the series serves to promote the Treadwell "brand."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this nature docuseries is far more kid-friendly than the feature-length documentary Grizzly Man. While that complex, provocative film delved into the life (and grisly death) of self-taught naturalist Timothy Treadwell, this series was put together almost exclusively from footage that Treadwell shot during the 13 summers he spent living among wild grizzly bears in Alaska. Animal-loving kids who don't know anything about Treadwell's eventual fate will be enthralled by the show's breathtaking images and Treadwell's ability to cultivate a relationship with the bears. That said, those who are familiar with what happened to Treadwell and his girlfriend may find that the knowledge flavors some of the images with a sense of dark foreboding.

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What's the story?

Timothy Treadwell spent 13 summers living with grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness, capturing some of the most amazing footage ever recorded of these noble animals in their native state. Year after year, he would return to the same spots, studying how bears live, hunt, and interact with each other. The self-taught naturalist claimed to have developed a special relationship with his subjects and would often spend time only a few feet from the bears, sometimes touching them and playing with cubs. His powerful footage has been collected into the documentary series THE GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES, which is amazing not only for what it teaches us about bears, but also for what it teaches us about a man who may have loved them a bit too much.

Is it any good?

Though there's no doubt that Treadwell greatly expanded the world's understanding of grizzlies, his lack of formal research training and his unorthodox techniques made him a lightning rod for criticism. Many people warned him that his methods were risky and that his supposed relationship with the bears was one-sided. Sadly, these critiques proved true when Treadwell and his girlfriend were attacked and killed by his beloved bears in October 2003 (a fate that was explored in the documentary Grizzly Man).

But Treadwell's sad end is not the main focus of this series. Rather, it's comprised of his video footage, combined with still photos and diary excerpts. All of these present an amazing understanding of animal behavior; the images, often shot from just a few feet away, are truly incredible. Treadwell was a failed actor and recovering alcoholic, and studying bears and promoting bear conservation became his life's work. And in Grizzly Man Diaries, his words -- either narrating his films or from his diary -- show a man who seems most at home in the woods, alone with his bears.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Treadwell's research methods. Was he wise, brave, or just foolish to spend so much time so close to wild bears? Parents, if the subject of Treadwell's eventual fate comes up, ask your kids whether they think what happened to him was inevitable. Also, do these amazing nature videos inspire you to be more conscious about wildlife conservation?

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