|Morgan Freeman hosts The Story of Us. (National Geographic Channel)|
TV SERIES REVIEWThis week, National Geographic Channel presents a new six-part series, The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman: Finding the Unity in Humanity. It is sort of companion piece to last year’s The Story of God where Freeman literally traveled all over the world to interview fascinating people about the beliefs and studies about religion. Once again, Freeman is on the road interviewing new fascinating people (some you are familiar with, others you are not) to discuss a variety of topics including freedom, war vs. peace, expressions of love, prejudice, leadership and the rebel spirit. As with the former series, this is a top-notch presentation with incredible photography and narration that keeps the pace going at fairly quick clip.
The premiere episode titled “The March of Freedom,” airs on Wednesday, October 11 and begins with Freeman interviewing the only prisoner ever to escape from a North Korean labor camp. Now married and living in New York City, this man’s wife serves as an interpreter explaining how difficult it was to transition from a life of no freedom to one that has virtually no boundaries. It doesn’t take long for one to appreciate America, flaws and all, and the freedoms we have been given. Other interviews include Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the punk band Pussy Riot who took a stand against her Russian government’s authoritarian rule and ended up in prison and Albert Woodfox who lived in solitary confinement for more than 44 years.
The episode explores all forms of freedom including freedom from behind bars, freedom from slavery and even freedom from our own mindset. It also exposes misconceptions about our freedoms and American citizens. Through it all, Morgan serves as an impartial reporter but there is a sense while watching the series that as stories are brought up, the viewer is led to agree with him all points. In one interview, Morgan interviews a woman who as a child escaped evils of her country and by doing so, discovers that this woman was actually born a man. The story shifts slightly about her freedom to live as the woman that was trapped in a man’s body. It’s not entirely clear if this was planned or not as Morgan appears to be surprised that this woman was born a man. She explains briefly the sacrifices she made in terms of procedures done to her body to become a woman and Morgan nods in approval almost praising her for her personal fight for freedom. Whether intentional or not, this last story felt as if the show was pushing an agenda.
All in all though, the show really showed me how much I take my own freedom for granted and even though I may disagree with my government or people in authority, I still have rights to live as I choose whereas many people in other parts of our world cannot. I look forward to watching the upcoming epsiodes.
The Story of Us airs on National Geographic Channel on Wednesdays at 9/8c. To learn more about this series, click here.