30 Days: The Complete Series – DVD Review

Morgan Spurlock made a name for himself in 2004 with the documentary Super Size Me, and won several awards at the Sundance Film Festival. In that documentary, Spurlock examined the affects of eating fast food on the health of America today. He subjected himself to a diet of McDonald’s cuisine for 30 days. The results were certainly eye-opening as Spurlock showed signs of being addicted to fast food, and his health worsened each day as his cholesterol skyrocketed and his body took its toll. Super Size Me probably didn’t stop you from eating fast food, but it did make you think twice about it eating it. A few years later, Morgan Spurlock took that same premise and made a television series called 30 Days. After three seasons, the entire series is now finally on DVD, including the previously unreleased to DVD third season.

In 30 Days, Morgan Spurlock dares you to “take a walk in someone else’s shoes” for 30 days. He even volunteers to be a participant in some of the episodes as well. In either case each episode takes an individual, and places them into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion, profession, or everyday life for 30 days. Over the three year run of the show topics included religion, homosexuality, working only minimum wage jobs, plastic surgery, pro choice/pro life, outsourcing, immigration, gun rights, animal rights and living in a wheelchair amongst others.

One of the main problems throughout this series has always been inconsistencies. Some episodes feature more serious topics than others. Some episodes pit two groups of people against each other in attempt to have them see the other side. That is when 30 Days is at its best. But then there are still a handful of shows that don’t have much conflict at all. Ultimately, those episodes still let viewers learn more about these topics, which is always a good thing. You just wish sometimes that there could be conflict at times.

It’s also interesting that Morgan Spurlock is not always the leading participant in all of these social experiments. Obviously, it might be too much to ask of one man to do all of these things. But the best episodes are definitely the ones where Morgan participates in, mainly due to the fact that Morgan has tremendous charisma on camera. Some of the other participants are not as engaging as Morgan is on-screen. At least Morgan is always close by to narrate what is going on in each episode, and even throws in some entertaining side-steps dealing with the topic being discussed.

The fact that Morgan Spurlock is not the lead participant in every episode means that each mini-documentary is not one-sided and skewed towards Morgan’s point of view. Morgan usually presents both sides of the argument, while placing someone in a different lifestyle. He really only asks the question, letting the viewer decide for himself what the answer ought to be.

The level of conflict through the series is just not as consistent as you would like it to be. Each episode of this series is certainly enlightening and entertaining to some degree, but some are just more entertaining than others. In the end, 30 Days will open your eyes to points of view than you might not necessarily see or know about.


Disc One (Season One):

Episode 1 – Minimum Wage
Morgan Spurlock and his fiance, Alex, move to Columbus, Ohio to try to make ends meet while earning minimum wage..$5.15 per hour. The situation gets worse when Morgan’s niece and nephew come to visit.

Episode 2 – Anti-Aging
A former athlete, now in his thirties, tries to reverse the aging process by going on a controversial anti-aging drug regimen and is shocked by the impact it has upon his marriage, career, and mental and physical well-being.

Episode 3 – Muslims and America
A devout Christian goes to live, share customs, and worship with a Muslim family in a largely Islamic community, where he learns a lot about faith, prejudice, and himself.

Disc Two (Season One):

Episode 4 – Straight Man in a Gay World
A homophobic young man goes to live and work in San Francisco’s largely gay Castro District, where he experiences what it’s like to live as a member of a misunderstood minority that still elicits feelings of fear and hatred from many Americans.

Episode 5 – Off the Grid
Two typical American consumers move to an eco-village in Missouri where they must live without the use of products derived from fossil fuels, including gas and electricity, for thirty days.

Episode 6 – Binge Drinking Mom
Concerned about her collegiate daughter’s alcohol consumption, a mother agrees to go on a thirty-day drinking binge, and she experiences firsthand the enormous social pressure to drink that many college students face today.

Disc Three (Season Two):

Episode 7 – Immigration
A man who opposes illegal immigration spends 30 days with a family of illegal immigrants.

Episode 8 – Outsourcing
An unemployed American ventures to India for 30 days to observe the effects of job outsourcing on the Indian culture.

Episode 9 – Atheist/Christian
A female atheist spends 30 days living with a fundamentalist Christian family.

Disc Four (Season Two):

Episode 10 – New Age
Seeking relief from his hectic lifestyle, a man spends 30 days using new age methods to improve his personal well-being.

Episode 11 – Pro-Choice/Pro-Life
Six years after having an abortion, a pro-choice woman spends 30 days living with pregnant women in a pro-life housing unit.

Episode 12 – Jail
Morgan Spurlock undertakes a challenge himself and attempts to spend 30 days locked up in a county jail.

Disc Five (Season Three):

Episode 13 – Working in a Coal Mine
Morgan Spurlock spends 30 days working in a coal mine in Bolt, West Virginia.

Episode 14 – 30 Days in a Wheelchair
Retired NFL cornerback Ray Crockett attempts to spend 30 days confined to a wheelchair.

Episode 15 – Animal Rights
Avid hunter George Snedecker, of North Carolina, attempts to spend 30 days living with a vegan family in Los Angeles, while learning about animal rights causes and programs.

Disc Six (Season Three):

Episode 16 – Same Sex Parenting
Kati, a Californian mother of two adopted children, attempts to spend 30 days living in Ypsilanti, Michigan with domestic partners Dennis and Thomas Patrick and their four adopted sons.

Episode 17 – Gun Nation
Gun control advocate Pia Lalli, of Massachusetts, attempts to spend 30 days living in Leesburg, Ohio with gun enthusiasts Ken Ekermeyer and his son Zach. She will learn proper gun handling while working at a gun store.

Episode 18 – Life on an Indian Reservation
Morgan Spurlock will attempt to spend 30 days living on a New Mexico Native American reservation with the Navajo Nation. While there, he will experience the modern amenities available on the reservation, and how they compare with preserving ancient traditions.

The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Transfer is decent with minimal distortion. Colors look bright. Could probably be a little better quality but this documentary-style of footage usually has good quality to it.

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 problems here either. Good enough to serve its purpose.

Audio Commentaries
All of the audio commentaries from the first and second season DVDs are here as well, along with a couple of new ones for season three. Morgan Spurlock and other crew members along with some of the participants in certain episodes comment on each episode as it plays. There are 8 total. Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler (executive producer), H.T. Owens (executive producer), and Alexandra Jamieson (participant) comment on the “Minimum Wage” episode. R.J. Cutler, Jonathan Chinn (co-executive producer), Keith Hoffman (supervising producer), and Max Swedlow (lead story producer) comment on the “Anti-Aging” episode. Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, H.T. Owens, and David Stacy, Shamael Haque & Sadia Shakir Haque (participants) comment on the “Muslims and America” episode. And finally, Morgan Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, and Ryan Hickmott & Ed Collar (participants) comment on the “Straight Man in a Gay World” episode. Morgan Spurlock and a few of the main executive producers, along with a few participants comment on the “Immigration” episode. Morgan Spurlock and a few of the main executive producers comment on the “Jail” episode. Morgan Spurlock and a few of the main executive producers, along with a few participants comment on the “Working on a Coal Mine” episode. Morgan Spurlock and a few of the main executive producers, along with a few participants comment on the “Life on an Indian Reservation” episode. When Morgan leads the conversation in these commentaries, which he does for all except the “Anti-Aging” one, they tend be extra insightful into what the crew and people involved think about each episode. Morgan keeps each commentary running smoothly. However, since neither Morgan nor the participant are involved in the “Anti-Aging” commentary, it’s a little slower than the others, but still good to listen to. These really add to the overall value of the DVD set.

Diary Cams
These are from the season one DVD release. These are basically the deleted scenes for each episode. It’s all the stuff that they didn’t use in each episode. Like most deleted stuff, most was not needed for the main story. However, since all of them run around 10 minutes or longer, there is some stuff that is watchable and you might as well take a look at it, since the season is only 6 episodes. Plus, it gives you a chance to see what the participants really think since they have a chance to vent their feelings into the camera at the end of the day.

As I have said before, this is a quality reality/documentary TV series. It makes you look at things in a new light. The same extras found on the previous DVD releases are found here as well. So if you bought the first or second season on DVD, the complete series is really not worth buying at all. Just buy the third season dvd if you want to complete your collection. It’s definitely worth a rental.

Virgin Films Home Entertainment presents 30 Days: Complete Series. Created by Morgan Spurlock. Starring Morgan Spurlock. Running time: 792 minutes. Rated: Not Rated. Released on DVD: May 18, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.