“Try someone else’s life on for size.” This is the slogan of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days, a show now available on DVD and definitely worth watching. The show appeared on FX for three seasons, and as much as I wish it were still on the air, I watch the existing three DVDs religiously. I’ve effectively used them multiple times in the classroom at the college level, and my husband and I enjoy watching them together also.
The premise of the show involves someone different in each episode who gets to experience firsthand a life completely out of his or her comfort zone and in direct opposition to his or her beliefs – for 30 days. Each episode focuses on a different contentious issue – many of which are heavily debated in our country today. Some of the episode’s subject matters include abortion, gun rights, and same-sex adoption. For example, in the “abortion” episode, a pro-choice woman and Planned Parenthood employee goes to live with a pro-life couple who runs a home for expectant mothers with nowhere else to turn.
The idea behind the series is that the show’s participants break out of their myopic way of thinking and realize there is another side to every belief they hold. Most individuals on the show walk away at the end of the 30 days either remarkably, or at least somewhat changed in the convictions they’ve long held, having challenged themselves through the experience and feeling empathy for those they’d never have imagined. I have found unfailingly that this series sparks intelligent, insightful conversations every time I use it in class. The show is extremely well done but Morgan Spurlock, who you might remember from Super Size Me. This is also something that my husband and I can agree upon watching together – a rare feat in and of itself – and it always provokes interesting and productive conversations between us as well.
While the individual episodes vary in controversial aspects, the presentation of material and factual information contained in each is impressive. It is very eye-opening and smart. I always feel better after I’ve spent time watching something in which I feel that I’ve learned something.
As someone who adores debate and intellectual discussion, I am so glad I discovered this show years ago. If you also happen to thrive on these things, you should absolutely check it out for yourself.
Sara Berelsman is a college instructor who lives in Delphos with her husband and two daughters and leads the book club discussions at the Delphos Public Library.