Idol Chatter

Could 30 days walking in someone else’s shoes change what you believe? That’s the premise of what is perhaps the one truly intelligent reality TV series on the tube this summer–Morgan Spurlock’s (“Supersize me”) FX series “30 Days.” Premiering for its second season last night, “30 Days” tackles cultural hot topics by bringing together two people on polar opposite sides of an issue to live together for, that’s right, 30 days, in the hopes of teaching them a lesson about tolerance and understanding.

The cultural hot potato of illegal immigration was the focus of last night’s episode, in which a border patrol volunteer, Frank Jorge–who just happens to be a legal immigrant from Cuba– moves into a one-bedroom apartment with an illegal immigrant family of six in east Los Angeles. He has to give up all of his I.D., work the same back-breaking jobs that they do, and make the same measly amount of money. Even as Frank eats, sleeps, and goes to church with the Gonzalez family, he remains resolute in his belief that it is better for America if millions of immigrants are returned to their homeland instead of taxing our society’s resources. The Gonzalez’s oldest daughter, Armida cannot understand this logic, because she is equally as passionate about her family’s desire to achieve the American Dream.

Unlike much of reality TV, there is not a huge payoff or special twist at the end of each episode. In the case of Frank and the Gonzalez family, while Frank becomes emotionally attached to the family, neither side really changes their beliefs. Frank does decide to give up working with the Minutemen patrolling the border, but he still does not approve of the Gonzalez family’s “undocumented” lifestyle.

But this is why “30 days” is as frustrating as it is fascinating–there are always more unanswered questions than answered ones at the end of each episode. But perhaps most importantly, the series–which promises to tackle topics such as abortion, atheism, New Age healing, and outsourcing in future episodes–embraces the notion that perhaps we can incite change in our culture one person at a time. It just may take a little longer than 30 days to see the results.

So, if you could have a life-changing experience by walking in someone else’ shoes for 30 days, whose shoes would you choose?

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus