Created and hosted by Academy Award Nominee
Morgan Spurlock, 30 Days is an unscripted, documentary-style American reality show which aired on the FX cable network. It was originally broadcasted only in U.S, but after some time, it was also aired in UK, Canada, Latin America, and Sweden as well. The show ran its course from 15th July 2005 to 5th July 2008 and spanned across three seasons of six episodes each. There was no Fourth Season. Morgan Spurlock got the idea of this show while filming the documentary-style movie Size Me where he ate nothing but junk food for an entire month. This led to the concept of 30 days where a person has to spend 30 days in a particular lifestyle which is contrary to their beliefs, religious sentiments, and other traits. They need to follow a set of rules which are unique to each location and each episode.
At least one episode in each season featured Morgan Spurlock himself facing the adversities. Unlike most reality shows which thrive on the negative publicity of its contestants, Spurlock attempted to make a show where people can step in other people’s shoes and experience what kind of hardships the “other” people are facing. By putting people in alien environments, Spurlock aims to broaden the participants' thinking, hopefully bringing them to an understanding of how the "other sides" lives. The Debut episode was inspired by Barbara Ehrenreich’s memoir, Nickel and Dimid, and features Spurlock and his vegan chef Fiancée, Alex Jamieson trying to survive on a minimum wage. The episode is full of heartfelt moments. The hardships of this poor working couple took a toll on their relationship.
Surviving on a minimum possible wage, sometimes the duo was left squabbling on pastries, whereas the other times, they had to brainstorm whether to visit a doctor or not. Continuing as the host of the subsequent episodes of the season, Spurlock brings out some of the harsh realities of the life, like in the episode named “Muslims and America,” he brings out the difficulties faced by Muslims living in America. In another episode titled “Straight man in a Gay world,” he brings out the adversities of being a gay. Season 2 had some interesting episodes as well. The first episode named “immigration” was one such episode. Set up in Los Angeles, it features a man having anti-immigration views, who has to go and live with a family of illegal immigrants.
This episode, considered as Spurlock’s most typically charged work yet, helped the show to achieve an all-time high viewership. It’s not a big revelation that illegal immigrants are also innocent people and in today’s world of unequal distribution of resources, illegal immigrants have to leave their home country in search of a better life. But 30 days turned a debate often too driven by useless statistics into a harsh living reality. The episode “outsourcing” was another such masterpiece where an American (Chris Jobin) lives in Bengaluru with an Indian Family and works in a call centre. His Conception of outsourcing of American jobs to cheaper Indian workers might have come forth to reality there, but he later realizes that he might have more opportunities to start his life in U.S than the Indian workers have in India.
The future episodes tackle atheism, abortion, and prison (Spurlock himself featured in this episode). The season 3 saw an episode where Spurlock himself worked in a coal mine and had to undergo the adversities faced by those workers. Some other topics like “30 days in a wheelchair,” “Same-sex parenting,” etc. made this season successful. The episode “Gun Nation” was highly appraised by some sections while others were very critical of it. By its very nature, the show invites many controversies and debates. That, combined with the edginess and complexity of the issues, makes the show suited for everyone.