Bill Nye has been educating children about science for decades. This year, he has moved on to adults with his Netflix original show Bill Nye Saves the World.
This week, I watched all thirteen episodes. They follow a particular formula. First, Bill Nye introduces his topic in a fun way that makes it easy to understand. He shows some science, then one of his correspondents tells a relevant story from another place. He brings on a panel of experts to discuss the issue. He tends to conclude the show with a guest star or a joke video. It’s funny but there’s an underlying message: it proves its relevance to the modern day.
There are a lot of things I love about this show. Bill Nye is very aware of representation, using women and minority correspondents and experts. Every show is a different topic, but he always comes back to the scientific process: how we make an observation, make a hypothesis, experiment, and then try to duplicate the results in order to find a solution. With his panel of experts, he proves that it is okay, even good, to ask questions.
I also love his “Bill needs a minute” segments, where he is overcome with emotion (usually anger) and talks about the issue and why he finds it ridiculous. Plus, oh my god, the DAD JOKES! (“Paraphrasing my colleague Jay-Z, it’s not one problem, it’s 99 problems, and they’re all…difficult.” About his ankle: “I’m attached to it.” They’re cheesy and kind of hilarious in a really horrible way.)
This is not a kids’ show, and he repeats that a lot. It’s for adults. One of my complaints is that he sometimes forgets who his audience is…or maybe I am. Most of his show is for my generation, the millennials who know there are problems in the world and want to help fix them. But much of it is proving these things are problems in the first place, which makes it seem like he’s talking to the skeptics and those who disagree with him. Sometimes he (or his guests, but he doesn’t edit it out) insults those people pretty harshly. While he has a reputation for disagreeing with creationists and Global Warming deniers, if he wanted this show to bridge the gap and inform those people, he should have approached them more kindly. Instead, he only enforces the believes of those who already agreed with him and maybe just wanted more information.
Bill Nye has come a long way from his Science Guy days. In this show, he switches between his lab coat and a blazer, showing when he is in “scientist” mode and when he is in “politician” mode. His show is called Bill Nye Saves the World because its purpose is to encourage his audience to learn from his show and effect change.
All of it is fun to watch, but some of the episodes are more important than others. I believe everyone should watch the episodes on global warming, vaccination, pseudo-science, and the sexual spectrum. We can learn a lot from Bill, and maybe it really will help us save the world.