|Available at Amazon.com|
Morgan Spurlock became a household name with his award-winning documentary Super Size Me back in 2004. While it was obvious to most people that eating nothing but fast food for 30 days will wreck your mind and body, Spurlock made it crystal clear on the big screen. Soon he got you thinking about various other issues, lifestyles, and problems in America when he created the television show 30 Days for the FX Network. While the first season of the show wasn’t as consistently good as it could have been, it did ask questions that no one on television has really dared to ask before. A second season of the show was soon produced, but the question here is would the second season improve on the inconsistencies of the first season or would it be more of the same?
The second season of 30 Days follows the same basic premise as the first season. Morgan Spurlock dares you to “take a walk in someone else’s shoes” for 30 days. In each episode, an individual is placed into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion, or profession for 30 days. Once again there are 6 episodes in this season, and the topics range from a border patrolman of Project Minutemen living with a family of illegal immigrants, an atheist living with a family of devout Christians, a Pro-Choice activist living in a Pro-Life center, and Morgan Spurlock even being in jail for 30 days among others.
The topics that are examined during this season are more controversial than the first season and definitely open up more debate. But just like the first season there are some fantastic episodes and some less than good episodes. The “Immigration” and “Jail” episodes are among the best, while the “Outsourcing” and “New Age” episodes are not as good as they tend to move all over the place and not focus on one central question. But both sides of each episode are presented equally and fairly just like the first season.
Morgan Spurlock’s personality is really what makes this show work. He is only a subject for the “jail” experiment episode, which by the way is why this episode is the best so far, but just like the first season he is again the host in each episode. Spurlock also adds to the stories with entertaining history lessons and side experiments dealing with the topic being discussed. The other subjects are decent enough, but the show would be a little better if Morgan was the central subject in every episode. Of course, the show would have a limited scope then, so maybe it’s better left as it is.
In the end, Morgan Spurlock doesn’t tell you which side is right on controversial subjects. He just asks the questions that opens up the debate on television. The second season is pretty much like the first season in format and end result. The second season does have a slight edge over the first season in examining more controversial topics, but it is still not as consistently good as it could have been. That being said, 30 Days still makes you think and it’s still one of the most unique television shows out there that everyone should check out at least once.
Episode 1 – Immigration
A man who opposes illegal immigration spends 30 days with a family of illegal immigrants.
Episode 2 – Outsourcing
An unemployed American ventures to India for 30 days to observe the effects of job outsourcing on the Indian culture.
Episode 3 – Atheist vs. Christian
A female atheist spends 30 days living with a fundamentalist Christian family.
Episode 4 – New Age
Seeking relief from his hectic lifestyle, a man spends 30 days using new age methods to improve his personal well-being.
Episode 5 – Pro-Life, Pro-Choice
Six years after having an abortion, a pro-choice woman spends 30 days living with pregnant women in a pro-life housing unit.
Episode 6 – Jail
Morgan Spurlock undertakes a challenge himself and attempts to spend 30 days locked up in a county jail.
The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is decent with minimal distortion. Colors look bright. Like the first season, this could probably be a little better quality but this documentary-style of footage looks good and pleasing to the eye even for those who don’t like the way documentaries look.
The audio included is in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There is an option for both English and Spanish subtitles as well. No major problems here either.
Audio Commentaries –
Morgan Spurlock and other crew members along with some of the participants in certain episodes comment on each episode as it plays. There are only two of these this season. Morgan Spurlock (host/creator/executive producer), R.J. Cutler (executive producer), Jonathan Chinn (co-executive producer), Esther Reyes (producer), and Armida Gonzalez (participant) comment on the “Immigration” episode. Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, and Jonathan Chinn all return to comment on the “Jail” episode. Once again when Morgan leads the conversation in these commentaries, they tend be extra insightful into what the crew and people involved think about each episode. Especially interesting to find out the problems they ran into with trying to keep the name of the illegal family a secret in the “Immigation” episode, and also what happened to main participants in the “Jail” episode. Morgan keeps each commentary running smoothly, and the only downside to these is that there isn’t one for each episode.
The second season of 30 Days makes you think just like the first season. Overall, the topics are more interesting, but this season is still not solid throughout. That being said, these six episodes do improve upon the inaugural season in most every way, so if you haven’t seen this show yet you would be okay with checking out this season first. Everyone should at least rent this show, and even lean towards purchasing it so that they can share it with their friends and family to “open their eyes.”
Arts Alliance America presents 30 Days – Season 2. Created by and Starring Morgan Spurlock. Running time: 288 minutes. NOT RATED. Released on DVD: July 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com