This month Bill Nye, known to many as “the Science Guy,” announced another season of “Bill Nye Saves the World” will be on Netflix soon. There is no specified release date for the next season, which is expected later this year.
“Bill Nye Saves the World” premiered in April 2017 with 13 episodes. Each episode focused on a single theme, varying from anticipated topics such as climate change and space travel to more surprising topics such as gender and pseudoscience.
The announcement was made via Bill Nye The Science Guy’s Facebook page with a video captioned, “Guess who’s back? Back again?” Nye is quoting Eminem’s 2002 hit “Without Me,” which is only the most recent pop-culture reference for his millennial fans. A similar reference was used in the initial trailer for the Netflix original series, where Nye holds a sign stating “Bill is back.”
The show itself contains a few segments that repeat every episode. Within the 30-minute talk show, Nye moderates a panel of three experts to debate the topic of the episode. While Nye is the host of the show, it doesn’t seem practical for him to moderate the discussions. He often allows only one or two of the experts, typically those who share his opinion, to lead the discussion. A few episodes of the first season display the weakness of the segment, including “Tune Your Quack-o-Meter” and “Malarkey!”
The first episode starts strong on the topic of climate change, but the second episode on alternative medicine foreshadowed the cringe-worthy habits the show would continue to repeat. “Tune Your Quack-o-Meter” included filmmaker Chris Beedie, science communicator Cara Santa Maria and psychology researcher Donald Schultz. During this panel, Nye exhibits a dismissive attitude toward Beedie.
Gizmodo’s science editor Maddie Stone described the exchange in a review. Stone said, “Nye and [Santa Maria] repeatedly gang up on another guest, the mild-mannered filmmaker Donald Schultz, when he suggests that some non-Western medicine practices might not be entirely bogus.”
Similar actions occur during the panel in “Malarkey!” which consisted of journalist Jamila Bey, professor of health law and science policy Timothy Caulfield, and astrologer Sam Reynolds. This time Reynolds was the one ganged up on and dismissed, reminiscent of Schultz, even after attempting to explain he does not view astrology as a science.
“You’re referring to it as a pseudo-science, but in order for astrology to be a pseudo-science, I would have to first believe that it’s a science,” Reynolds said during the panel. “I don’t believe it’s a science.”
Another example from the same episode, “Malarkey!” involved Bey stating, “Can you make my life better with astrology, in any way?” Reynolds said, “How does ‘Hamlet’ make your life better?”
The perspective of the show seemed to divide arts and sciences, and mocked anything that is not science. It can be unsettling, considering how arts programs are so often cut from educational programs in favor of sciences. For example, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal plans to cut funding from arts and humanities programs.
While the show attempts to educate with humor, it often falls short for viewers looking for sincere explanation. One of the biggest issues with the panel is the lack of time they have to really discuss the topics Nye is trying to introduce to the audience. Perhaps if the show was an hour per episode, then the conversations would be more in-depth and open.
In the beginning of the teaser for next season, tweets from critics of Nye and his show swarm the screen. The reaction to new season announcement is mixed from some fans proclaiming their excitement, while others call him a sellout and asked for “real science and not social justice.”
“Bill Nye Saves the World” marked Nye’s return to television since creating the 1990s syndicated show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which introduced millennial audiences to science and engineering.
Article by Katie Fatzler