30 Days season opens with immigration issue
The Hartford Courant
Jul. 25, 2006
PASADENA, Calif. -- Opposing views usually clash in heated exchanges on TV.
It's a time-honored tradition good for the medium but bad for insight.
But Morgan Spurlock's approach on the cable documentary series "30 Days" is
dedicated to fomenting understanding between polarized groups through the kind
of monthlong walk-in-my-shoes exercise that made him famous.
"Super Size Me," his documentary about the effects of eating McDonald's fare for
a month, first earned fame for Spurlock. Now, on "30 Days," which begins its
second season Wednesday at 10 p.m. on the FX network, he's at it again.
This season, a pro-choice feminist will work with pro-lifers at a pregnancy
crisis center. An atheist will live with Christian fundamentalists. A man who
lost his job to outsourcing will travel to India, where his job and others went.
Spurlock, who typically gets involved in one episode a season, will be jailed
for 30 days to examine firsthand some of the corrections issues of the 21st
century. It was to have been a season opener, but the urgency of the U.S.
immigration policy has shifted a more topical episode to the premiere slot.
"The immigration issue is an incredibly important topic that continues to be
brought up on every news station, on every newspaper and every magazine,"
Spurlock said at a session for "30 Days" during this month's TV Critics
Association press tour in Pasadena. "For the premiere episode, we wanted to
really dive into this issue."
For all the news about immigration, he says, "You never really get to hear that
much from the people who are actually there every day."
Among them is Frank George, a Cuban-born legal immigrant who spends time as
a Minuteman guarding the southern U.S. border and working for stricter
adherence to immigration law. He was paired with a family of illegal
immigrants to learn their story.
"We really wanted to have somebody be put into the shoes and see the world
through the eyes of an undocumented family," Spurlock says.
Despite his strident views, George quickly develops great affection for the
family and admiration for their hard work in supporting themselves. He
changes, it is clear from the episode, though George now claims he was
"He's not going to admit it publicly that he changed," says a young woman
who lived in the immigrants' home and who went by the name of Armida, "but I
honestly can tell you from the bottom of my heart that I saw that change."
"And his actions also speak for it," she adds, saying George has volunteered
to teach the family matriarch English -- "something that I don't think any
Minuteman will do."
"One of the things that '30 Days' does that we really try and explore is an
idea of understanding and tolerance," says Spurlock. "And I think that, you
know, for the first time you have two people from the opposite sides of the
fence who are coming together in a dialogue that rarely happens."