30 Days: TV Review

I am a self-proclaimed reality-TV-phobe. I have not watched any reality TV show regularly (… well, except My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé … but that’s just TV gold, so who can blame me?). But now I have to admit to being completely fascinated by a new (in Canada) show called 30 Days [airing Saturdays on the Independent Film Channel].

Inspired by how much his perceptions changed after going on a 30-day McDonald’s diet for his documentary film Super-Size Me, Morgan Spurlock (with his handlebar moustache) is back as the host and creator of this series where individuals spend 30 days living another lifestyle, with cameras following every step of the way. Spurlock and his fiancée (who is neither fat nor obnoxious, by the way) spent 30 days living on minimum wage (but I missed that episode, because I couldn’t subscribe to the IFC in time—darn you, Rogers!).

In the episode that I saw, a man who is (eerily) the same age as me wanted to fight aging. Time and family had taken its toll on this former swimmer’s body and he decided to undergo a 30-day program of exercise, diet, and anti-aging treatments of testosterone, growth-hormones, and micro-nutrient supplements. Over the course of the episode, I watched Scott and his family cope with fear over the chemicals he was putting into his body (even his trainer was shocked that he took over 40 pills a day!) and health problems, including liver malfunction and infertility (oh, the shock on their frozen faces when they got the results from the fertility clinic). I really felt for him as he had to decide whether to go on or not. His wife was there with him every step of the way, but she too was struggling between tears and I-told-you-so’s. There were positive results in Scott’s weight loss and improved energy levels, but they wanted more kids so, in the end, the infertility was too high a price and he quit after three weeks. The lesson Scott learned was that his family (present and future) were too important for him to risk on a “quick fix”.

Like in Super-Size Me, Spurlock combines the story of one person’s experiment with facts about whatever area of interest is being dealt with. As interesting as it was to learn (through Scott’s experience) about the pitfalls of anti-aging medicine, I am even more excited to see upcoming episodes. They include: a devout Christian who lives in a Muslim community for 30 days, and a typical urban couple who leave behind electricity and modern communications to live off-the-grid in an eco-village. I am completely impressed by these individuals’ willingness to expand their perceptions by moving so far out of their own comfort zones. I appreciate that I get to vicariously experience what they are doing, without the sacrifice. It’s like Fear Factor without the bikinis or bugs—finally, reality TV with some genuine human lessons.

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