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10 Worldview-Expanding TV Series for World Television Day

World Television Day (November 21) isn't just another made up pseudo-holiday. In 1996, the General Assembly of the
Television set
Television Hungarian ORION 1957 by Takkk
United Nations established it to recognize the "increasing impact television has on decision-making by bringing world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security," as well as television's "potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues." To honor the intended spirit of World Television Day, why not turn on your tube and tune into some worldview-expanding programming? Better yet, watch with friends or family and discuss the global, cultural, social, and economic issues raised. Here is a sample of the informative and thought-provoking TV series that you can check out from your local library (availability varies by title). 

Airing on PBS since 1983, the award-winning series Frontline is "committed to providing [...] engaging reports that fully explore and illuminate the critical issues of our times."  
Human Planet

Human Planet, a BBC / Discovery Channel / France Television co-production, crisscrosses the globe to examine the "amazing, complex, profound, and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature." 

30 Days

While FX isn't typically thought of as a destination for television about socio-cultural issues, their series 30 Days gives participants "the opportunity to experience firsthand a world that is the complete opposite of their own." 


The Big Picture with Kal Penn

The Big Picture with Kal Penn, from National Geographic Channel, investigates topics such as incarceration, pandemics, and refuse "through the mapping of new data, the creative visualization of information, and in-depth personal stories."


No Reservations

Not simply a show about world cuisine, Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations—particularly in its 7th season—uses food as "only the first glimpse of a wider view of how people live their lives." 


Who Do You Think You Are?

NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? isn't about everyday people. Yet, as it travels "the world to uncover the secrets and surprises in [celebrities'] family trees," it illustrates the often unexpected ways we are all connected to others through our ancestry. Fun fact: both Susan Sarandon and Tim McGraw used The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy to research their families’ histories on the program.

The Ascent of Money

Ever wonder "how money evolved, from the concept of credit and debt in the Renaissance to the emergence of a global economy?" The Ascent of Money from PBS tells the story.


This American Life

This American Life (Yes, it was a TV show on Showtime!) is difficult to describe. One of its originators says that it applies "the tools of journalism to everyday lives, personal lives." (Trust me. It will make you think about human experiences including and beyond your own.)


Discovery Atlas

A flagship series for Discovery Channel, Discovery Atlas delves into "the culture, cuisine, and people" of Brazil, China, and more.

Connections 3

An outstanding example of a vintage educational show, Connections 3 follows "the effects and origins of inventions and events that shape the modern world." (Host James Burke makes this trip back to 1990's-era television worth it.)


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