Bill Nye Saves the World reviews are in and, perhaps not surprisingly, opinion on the show is largely split along partisan lines. Considering that the show is “unapologetically political,” according to Variety, viewers’ politics seem to be clouding their actual take on the show.
For those not familiar, Bill Nye Saves the World marks the engineer-turned-comedian-turned-science evangelist’s turn to the world of streaming TV, with a 13-episode first season on Netflix, which debuted on April 21.
From the beginning, Nye made it clear that the show would be mixing science with politics – a relevant intersection of topics considering that the Trump administration hasn’t exactly been friendly to science, according to some viewpoints. Such things as climate change, vaccines, and the teaching of evolution in public schools carry political baggage, and Nye clearly and unashamedly falls on the side of science when it comes to these political issues.
“We’re going to be talking about important, perhaps even controversial issues.”
Right from the first episode – “Earth Is A Hot Mess” – Nye went straight for one of the most contentious and politically-charged scientific debates of the day: climate change. And as you can tell from the title, he’s on the side that posits that man-made climate change is real, and the governments need to be doing more to address it.
Unlike his previous TV venture, Bill Nye the Science Guy, which was aimed at kids, Saves the World is geared towards adults. During the show, you can see Nye extracting DNA from a strawberry or explaining how people who choose not to vaccinate their children contribute to the spread of disease.
i’m watching the first episode of bill nye saves the world and i already love it pic.twitter.com/ZIy8Y9pkKQ
— jade (@comicwade) April 30, 2017
Variety reviewer Aja Romano points out that Nye’s exposition assumes that the audience is on his side — an assumption that can, at times, come off as condescending.
“A longstanding criticism of the skeptics community is that its members often profess mocking or condescending attitudes toward anyone who believes in things skeptics are opposed to — primarily religion… This attitude is prevalent on Nye’s show, which frequently takes a scathing and dismissive tone toward non-scientific belief systems.”
An in fact, at one point during a discussion of Earth’s origins, Nye took a swipe at the belief in the Biblical Noah’s Ark, literally knocking a prop ark off of a stage and saying, “There’s no freaking Noah’s ark, I’m sorry.”
National Review — which, it bears noting, is an unabashedly conservative website — takes a far less favorable view of Bill Nye in general. In his review, David Harsany looks at the show not just on its own merit, but in light of Nye’s career as a whole. He finds both lacking.
“Bill Nye has some detestable views about humanity. In his Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World, the former children’s-television host supplies viewers with various trendy notions to adorn his ideological positions with the sheen of science.”
Putting aside such matters as politics and some leftist scientists’ tendency to be condescending, Saves the World also fails in some other areas, according to some reviewers.
For example, Indie Wire finds Nye’s attempts to be relevant to Millenials — employing such things as fist bumps and awkward use of Millenial slang – almost cringeworthy. Similarly, Metacritic reviewer SandraC3 and several others used words like “awkward,” “uneven” and “cringeworthy” to describe the show.
If Bill Nye Saves the World is going to come back for a second season and beyond, it may well be that conservative viewers and other viewers whose views butt up against mainstream science are going to be put off by it simply because of its ideological basis. But beyond ideological concerns, it’s obvious that the show is going to need some tweaking to keep viewers — even those who are on Bill’s side — tuned in.
[Featured Image by Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo]