Zac Efron has come a long way since his High School Musical days. In Down to Earth with Zac Efron, a show that Indian audiences can enjoy for the first time on Netflix, the Hollywood star travels around the world to spread the message around sustainability. This lifestyle show is very different from the ones we are used to watching before.
In Down to Earth with Zac Efron, the actor and wellness expert Darin Olien travel to Iceland, France, Costa Rica, Sardinia, Lima, Puerto Rico, London and Iquitos to discover how people in these places live a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. While the main focus of the show is on its environmental message, the duo also enjoy cuisines from the places, go sight-seeing and even take part in recreational activities.
With seven episodes that run a little short of an hour, we see gorgeous landscapes, watch the hosts do extraordinary things like boil eggs on volcanic residue in ice-capped Iceland, zip-line through Costa Rica, grow apples and then understand how these countries make electricity out of natural resources. As the title suggests, the show takes us back to nature. The message, though repetitive, is simple– the most complicated question of how humanity can survive the climate crisis can be answered by nature itself.
The show is also narrated by Efron, which helps in breaking away his Hollywood star image. While reliving his experience during the narration, he sounds as shocked and awe-struck as he can be seen on camera. This gives the audience the sense that they are experiencing the same things at the same time as the actor.
However, this also means that we see an unedited and unfiltered side to him on the show. Zac Efron might be one of the biggest stars, he also tends to be way less dynamic in real time. There are stretches in the show when he looks less than enthusiastic, or awkwardly silent. Usually, the hosts of lifestyle shows find themselves with the responsibility to be entertaining at all times. This is to ensure that the audience sitting at home can relate to what’s happening on screen. However, Efron chooses to be himself, which is at times, not great for the show.
On the other hand, Darin Olien is a natural. He interacts more with the people on the show, is animated, makes jokes and even does Yoda impressions. Instead of utilising this and making use of Efron and his easy-going dynamic, the makers insist that he play second-fiddle to Efron.
The show also takes a hit after a few episodes because of its structure. While the makers want to establish a pattern, a lot of things happen at the same time. The show at times lacks concrete focus and tends to be haphazard. In some episodes, Efron and Olien do extremely touristy things. The luxury appeal of the show quickly becomes lacklustre.
However, in a broad sense, Down to Earth With Zac Effron is not a bad show at all. It is a show that you can put on your television while you have dinner. It is also great that a show wants to take a stand against the climate crisis. The makers of the show have delicately interlinked the educational and entertaining aspects of the show. The show could have been a documentary on one side and frivolous on the other. But it maintains its neutrality in a steadfast fashion.
People also seem to be loving the show. Ever since its release, it has received good reviews from the audience. Efron seems to also have found his true calling in travel. Not only is he filming the second season of the show, he will also appear in the Quibi show Killing Zac Efron where he will venture into “deep into the jungles of a remote, dangerous island to carve his own name in expedition history”.