Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stephen Fry in America

For the past couple of days, Eric and I have been enjoying a 6-part documentary called Stephen Fry in America.  Most people in the US don't know who Stephen Fry is--their most recent exposure to him is as Sherlock Holmes' brother in the Robert Downey, Jr. movies--but in the UK he is quite famous as a comedian, actor, and writer.

We didn't quite know what to expect from a series whose host visits all 50 states, but it turned out to be very enjoyable.  It is interesting to see how a person from another country views America.

Fry does not go to the normal tourist traps and places you would expect him to visit.  Well, sometimes he does, but usually not.  For instance, Los Angeles, Disneyland, and San Diego make no appearances at all when he visits California.  But he does visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Some states get more air time than others.  Each 1 hour episode has a theme, such as "the True West," "the Mississippi," "the Deep South," or "the Pacific."  And, while his choices of what he focuses on and where he visits may seem odd, they are always fascinating.  Standing at nearly 6'5", Fry is an imposing figure, and his size alone can create comic results.  He also has a very open and inquisitive mind.  From Ted Turner at his ranch in Montana to the homeless in Detroit, he treats each person he meets as someone with a story worth sharing,

For the most part, this is a very G-rated series, with a few PG moments.  A few of his subjects are people who live on the fringe of society with either dark religious beliefs or questionable morals, but most of them are not.  No matter what their circumstances, everyone he visits with are proud to call themselves Americans.  Besides seeing some unforgettable scenery, the viewer is also reminded of the many qualities that create the tapestry of our nation.

(This series is available on Netflix Instant Streaming.)

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