One of the shows that helped me escape my confined space during the 2020 pandemic was Netflix’s “Down to Earth with Zac Efron.”
In the first season actor Zac Efron ventured to France, Puerto Rico, London, Iceland and many other spots.
In each of those places he touched upon the themes of nature, sustainable living and green energy.
He sometimes brought in his famous friends to help with certain adventures. At other times he consulted experts to explain what they were working on to help save the planet.
The first season was a bit all over the place, jumping from topic to topic, much like our attention span during lockdown. This made it the perfect show for those times.
I had only been a casual viewer of Efron’s work up to that point, and knew nothing of his personality, but by the end of season one I had concluded that he seemed like a cool guy to go on a trip with. Many critics agreed, as the season won a daytime Emmy in 2021.
With eight episodes per season, we really got to know Efron and his travel companion, well-being expert Darin Olien.
The second season, also made up of eight episodes, premiered on Netflix in November.
The new season is much more focused, not only because it is centered in one country, or continent, but the two are much more aware of their immense male white privilege, something that seemed a bit lacking in the first — albeit immensely fun — season.
The duo this time around explored the indigenous communities of Australia much more mindfully, and seemed to pass on the mic so that natives could tell us their own story.
Both Efron and Olien were there to learn, enjoy and inspire. And we were like flies on the wall who got to witness it all without leaving our sofas.
Each episode ends with the following message: “The team acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands across Australia.
“We pay respect to the elders past, present and emerging for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.”
Showing the additional wisdom of the last two years, the two men seemed to really want to get it right this time and not be “the white saviors” in this narrative.
They wanted to be the individuals who let natives take up the space and rightfully guide us all.
Efron and Olien, along with the audience, were merely coming along for the ride. We were all passengers on the journey, with the natives the ones at the wheel.
Narrated by Efron, who would often sneak in playful puns and philosophical observations, season two is a more down-to-earth exploration and one well worth sitting through.
Both seasons can now be streamed on Netflix MENA.