Down to Earth with Zac Efron
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
In this travel show, actor Zac Efron journeys around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien in search of healthy, sustainable ways to live.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Let's be honest, you probably just saw Zac Efron in the title and was already on board to watch this pseudo travel show without knowing really much about it.
Netflix knows this, the producers know this and Efron himself knows this – and that's the plan all along with Down to Earth with Zac Efron. How do you get people to watch a show about finding a cleaner and healthier lifestyle while also being good to the planet? Douse it in the charm of a teenage heartthrob all grown up, and you have yourselves a must-watch.
But there's more to the show than just staring longingly into Efron's eyes. At first, it looks like a travel show with a celebrity. Instead, it dives into a key topic about lifestyle choices in each episode, traversing the world to find out how communities and countries are doing things a little differently to Americans. From green energy, water purification and seed banks to natural disasters, growing old and sustainable food, Efron and his travel partner – health and superfood guru Darin Olien – ask some hard questions about their own lifestyle choices and its impact on the planet.
What's important to note is that this isn't a high-budget Planet Earth type docu-series. It feels like a group of friends travelling the world, talking to people about their fields of expertise and embracing experiences outside of their comfort zones. Even the filming crew pops up into the show, involved in trying out weird food and directly addressed by the hosts with inside jokes.
Some shots are messy, and the hardships of filming aren't hidden behind editing cuts. In one episode where they interview an Italian doctor, they even show a misunderstanding that terribly annoyed their interviewee. It's a raw, honest show, yet doesn't feel too preachy about how we HAVE to change our lives (or the Americans in any case).
However, the obvious sponsorship call-outs to the likes of Hilton, Visa and GoPro could get obnoxious at times.
But beyond what the different communities can offer the viewers, the show feels like a personal journey for Efron himself – and not in a self-obsessed, conceited way. He's looking the healthiest he's ever been without the impossible muscles, and you almost want to cry when he eats pasta in Sardinia and says it's the first time in years he's had carbs.
He's quite honest in the show about how badly he managed his fame and the loneliness he felt in Hollywood, and while they don't address his previous addictions, you can't help notice his cup of coffee when everyone's drinking wine.
In Puerto Rico, where they address the impact of hurricanes on human lives and the help they need to not only rebuild, but transform their infrastructure into something more resilient, the mayor asks Efron to sign a wall of people that came to help. He's incredibly hesitant, saying he doesn't feel he's contributed enough, but she tells him that just using his massive platform to spread awareness about their plight is already a major help – and that alone explains the whole premise of this show.
His charming sincerity is also brought out by his co-host, Olien. While I've never heard of him before – he's apparently wellknown for introducing a new superfruit from South America to the West – it's pretty evident how passionate he is about healthy living. He acts as Efron's guide, who in turn is a proxy for the audience's journey of discovery throughout the show. He's never overshadowed by Efron, despite the few times fans swarm the heartthrob for some selfies and autographs. The two come off as old friends who really like hanging out and joking with each other while still having hard conversations.
The final episode is quite a tearjerker as a personal tragedy befalls one of them while filming. In the back of your mind, you think they're both rich enough to bounce back easier from the hardships of life than most other people, but you can't discount the emotional grief you see on the screen.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron is not only a nice travel escape from our current homebound lives. It also helps you reframe your relationship with food, the environment and your lifestyle choices. It might not necessarily completely change your outlook on life, but it might just start turning a few cogs in your head as the world is reshaped into something new – something hopefully better.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE