Years of Living Dangerously

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Years of Living Dangerously TV Poster Image
Star-studded exposé on the planet's current health status.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The documentary leaves no stone unturned in exploring the causes and effects of climate change, and it makes a strong case without coming across as too preachy. Poignant scenes of deforestation and sad stories about intentional animal slaughter are bolstered by quantifiable scientific research and visual evidence. That said, the issue of global warming is a controversial one, and not everyone will agree with all of the experts' claims. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everyone involved in the project is passionate about the issue at hand, including the celebrities who act as correspondents on the stories. Their time onscreen reflects other work they've done with related nonprofit groups. 

Violence

Segments filmed in areas like the Middle East show the effects of war in toppled buildings, explosions, and scarred land. Men carry guns and other weapons and talk about friends and family they've lost to wars. The film crew's travels through places like Syria and Turkey are fraught with tension because of ongoing conflict and the constant threat of violence.

Sex
Language

Rarely "damn." 

Consumerism

Product names like Apple computers, Oreos, and Dove soap are visible in a few scenes, but there's no intent to promote them by way of the documentary's content. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Years of Living Dangerously makes a passionate case for the reality of climate change and grim predictions for the future of the planet and its residents if drastic changes aren't made. Concerned celebrities like America Ferrera and Matt Damon team up with industry experts to visit places suffering the effects of global warming, and the stories of drought, economic collapse, and even war that they attribute to atmospheric changes are heartbreaking. Even so, these claims are entirely one-sided, and video clips and images of people with contrasting views (including American politicians and international government leaders) are used in a somewhat mocking fashion. Most of the scientific data will be over younger kids' heads, but teens with an interest in the subject will find the content easy to understand. Expect to see weapons and evidence of conflict in scenes filmed in war-torn areas like the Middle East. 

User Reviews

Parent of a 16 year old Written bylaricher23 June 10, 2014

Global warming is real - people just don't want to believe it (but hose sane people believe in UFOs and conspiracy theories ). Program combines scientific information presented in an entertaining manner.

This is an absolute must see in order to take action to protect our children & their children. Presents scientific information in an entertaining manner... Continue reading

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What's the story?

YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY is a docuseries that explores the worldwide effects of climate change on both the scientific and the human levels. Dispatching celebrity correspondents like Harrison Ford and Don Cheadle, the series goes on location to areas hardest hit by global warming, from drought-ridden Texas to the Indonesian forests that are being destroyed in favor of more lucrative crops. The teams gather insight from local experts and average people whose lives and livelihoods have been altered drastically by recent climate change. In each place, they reflect on the damage that's already been done and consider what can be done to turn the tide of destruction.

Is it any good?

Produced by a team of veteran news reporters and Hollywood movie-makers like James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Years of Living Dangerously is a hard-hitting exposé on the planet's current health status, and the news isn't good. Experts make the case that devastating droughts, abnormal weather patterns, and even a modern war can be blamed on climate change, and they back up their claims with some pretty convincing evidence and a lot of disheartening scenes of burning forests and computer projections of future environmental damage. Even the celebrities involved lend surprising credence to the project, as each one boasts longstanding involvement in conservation-related nonprofit work and all are clearly affected by what they witness on assignment.

But beneath its expertly crafted appearance beats the heart of a decidedly biased and extremely divisive issue in climate change itself. This documentary's purpose is to convince viewers that years of humans "living dangerously" is the overwhelming -- if not the sole -- cause of the planet's predicament today, and contrasting opinions (and their believers) are either discredited or disregarded. This is neither accidental nor unexpected in a tell-all documentary, of course, but such a one-sided presentation might raise some questions from teens who know of other theories on the subject. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their thoughts on the issue of climate change. Do you believe all of the claims made by the show's experts? How far-reaching are the effects of global warming? In what ways do economies and people suffer even in areas not directly affected by these kinds of weather fluctuations? 

  • Teens: To what degree do you think it's important for people to take responsibility for the planet? Is it plausible to think that a majority of people will? How are the interests of governments and those of average people different on this issue? 

  • Why do you think the celebrities involved in this show signed on to it? What do they get out of the deal? Does their involvement further the project's cause? What are the upsides to celebrity status? The drawbacks?

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