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 WHALE WARS is an intense reality series that's iffy for tweens and sensitive viewers due to graphic scenes of the killing and dismemberment of whales and the violent lengths to which the conservationists and the whale hunters go -- including exchanges of gunfire, hostage situations, and other bodily threats -- to deter each other's actions. Viewers who come to the show with a predetermined opinion on the balance between conservation and hunting rights will naturally side with one of the opposing groups, but if you're riding the fence, this gritty show will raise a lot of points to consider in forming your stance. While activists' devotion to their cause is admirable, their radical tactics won't set well with some viewers, and may send the wrong message about conflict resolution to impressionable youngsters. Expect some heated language ("hell" is common, but "f--k," "s--t," and others are bleeped) as well.
What's the story?
Legendary conservationist Paul Watson and a crew of volunteers take to the sea in an effort to protect whales from poachers and hunters in Whale Wars. Aboard their flagship, the Steve Irwin, Watson and his fellow "eco-warriors" patrol hotspots for whale hunting, including the coast of Antarctica and the shores of the Scandinavian Faroe Islands, where an ancient tradition centers on the baiting and slaughter of hundreds of pilot whales in a joint community effort. Led by Watson, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society members are often joined by additional ships and crews who help stage strategic missions to thwart the whalers' plans and save both endangered and non-endangered species of whales hunted for their meat as well as for research purposes.
Is it any good?
Whale Wars is a disturbing, thought-provoking reality series that isn't for the faint of heart. Even if you side with the freedoms invoked by the hunters over the fervency of the conservationists, it's still disconcerting to see the bloodied, splayed whale bodies and the footage of the killing process itself. This show doesn't shy away from presenting the good and the bad of every aspect of this longstanding face-off, and players on both sides of the fence at times come across as villains and as heroes as they make their cases and hold tight to their convictions, even when it means crossing the law. In this sense, the series does an impressive job of remaining unbiased and allowing the action to unfold in a truly realistic manner.
Of course, this being reality TV, the drama isn't limited to the whales' plight. There's plenty of interpersonal drama among friends and enemies, and subsequent seasons and spin-off specials like Whale Wars: Viking Shores allow more interaction between the activists and the whalers themselves. Not surprisingly this makes for plenty of heated exchanges and verbal and physical threats compiled with the ever-present dangers that exist among people who will stop at nothing for a cause that's near to their heart. In other words, it's not for families, but if your teens can stomach the content, this series offers plenty to discuss on the issues of conservation, personal freedom, and the balance between the two.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's messages. What does it want viewers to take away from watching? Do you agree with the point it's trying to make? Is the content fair to both sides of the issue?
How do the cast members' personalities affect your response to their message? Is it possible to like a person's message and not care for the person himself? Do you think their radical actions are necessary for their cause to work?
Does this series change your feelings about conservation? What limits should exist on the reach of conservation efforts? In what ways can these efforts interfere with people's lifestyles? Which should take precedence?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love reality TV
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.