30 Days season three -- An early look
When I first heard that Morgan Spurlock was doing a series for FX, I was thrilled. I really enjoyed Super Size Me and I thought FX was the perfect place for a guy like him to do a show.
For those of you who haven't seen it. 30 Days uses the same basic premise of Super Size Me but takes it a giant step forward. Instead of adopting a bad habit for a month, like in the film, Spurlock and others actually live a completely different lifestyle. In past episodes, we saw people take human growth hormones, binge drink, work for minimum wage and much more all for thirty days straight.
Gallery: 30 Days
As if that wasn't interesting enough, Spurlock sometimes takes the experiment one step further by asking a devout Christian to live as a Muslim or have a homophobic straight guy live and work in the gay community in San Francisco. What you end up with isn't some Jerry Springer-esque car wreck. It's an insightful and revealing look at people and lifestyles that most of us know very little about. More importantly, every episode is presented in a convenient sixty minute package.
For season three, Spurlock has made sure to include the same interesting and captivating subjects as in the past. And just like before, he himself is the guinea pig for two of the six episodes.
In the first episode, Spurlock lives the life of a coal miner in West Virginia. At first glance, this seems like a simple sixty minute look into the lives of people who have interesting jobs that most of us would never do. However, Spurlock refuses to make his show that simple.
From the first scene, I started getting chills. Spurlock explains that he grew up in West Virginia and his father repaired the machines that were used in the mines. While he went off to film school, his family and friends stayed in the small town of Pineville and continued in the coal mining industry. Spurlock expertly uses this example to show that the coal mining industry affects the lives of everybody in some way.
Episode one has all the requisite elements. The family he stays with could not be a nicer couple. The man of the house will also be his boss at the mine. Not only has he been working there for over thirty years, he also has a lot to show for it. I was surprised by how much you can make being a coalminer, but as the show points out, it's not just a dangerous job, it's a difficult one, therefore the salary is commensurate. What this means is that most of the guys who work in the mining industry have a nice home, a wife who stays there and takes care of it and a house full of kids who all have health insurance and can look forward to a college education. That's more than most Americans have, including me.
The episode features all the safety information you would expect. There's plenty of talk about cave-ins, black lung and the like, but Spurlock also takes the time to show us the damage that coal mining does to the environment and the argument for why it should be stopped. As you can expect, he explores both sides of the issue and makes it clear that there is no easy answer.
If the first episode is any indicator as to the quality of the rest of season three, nobody should be disappointed. As always, Spurlock manages to put a very human face on the subject while staying completely neutral on the subject.
The remaining episodes in the season are entitled "30 Days in a Wheelchair," "Animal Rights," " Same Sex Parenting," "Gun Nation" and "Life on an Indian Reservation."