Inspiring Conversations

TV This: Meet the Natives

  • SumoMe

By Penny K

Synopsis: Meet the Natives follows two groups of men from the South Pacific island of Tanna – one venturing to the UK and the other travelling to the U.S. – to observe the natives of these exotic lands. From cattle roundups and snowball fights in Montana, to bars with drag queens in Manchester, and traditional fox hunting and a meeting with England’s Prince Philip, these men experience some of the best – and most unusual – activities that each country has to offer. They provide a unique spin on life in the UK and America, filtering what they see through their own experiences and offering their perspective on homelessness, traditional gender roles, livestock artificial insemination, and more.

Photo Credit: © KEO Films

Photo Credit: © KEO Films

My first brush with Meet the Natives was yesterday’s repeat telecast on the National Geographic Channel (channel 11 for those with cable TV) of the natives’ visit to The Big Apple. I met the natives and loved them.

I found the concept of the documentary so clever. For years, anthropologists have ventured into the South Pacific to live with tribes and study them. Here, Meet the Natives puts a spin on this, peeling five members of the Tanna tribes away from their homes, clothing them, and taking them on a tour around the UK and US. This documentary’s point of interest needs no further clarification.

In the second installment of the documentary (I missed the first one), the men are swept in a limousine and chauffeured to the apartment of an upper-crust woman named Bunny, their guide to their New York leg of the tour. In this episode, Chief Mangau, Kamua, Kuai, Sam and Namus experience the life of Manhattan’s elite.

From learning how to cook and eat pasta and pizza to drinking wine, the Tanna tribesmen are endearing in their mannerisms and thoughtful in their interactions with people from the big city.

A memorable moment from the documentary is when dining with Bunny and her nephew the men discuss love and gay marriage in Tanna. When asked of the incidences of same sex marriages in Tanna, the chief answered that there aren’t any simply because no fruit could come out of such a union. But he went on to say that if a man loved another man and a woman loved another woman, he didn’t see why they shouldn’t be together, elucidating a level of acceptance that’s rare in the most modern of societies.

Another incident worth mentioning is when at Central Park, seeing an old man begging in Central Park, the Tanna men have difficulty understanding why this man is homeless when there are so many buildings in New York.  And when one of them says, “You can tell nobody loves him”, it takes a heart of steel not to burst into tears.

Meet the Natives is a must-watch. Whether it’s because you find yourself bored at home on a Sunday night or you look particularly to watch only good TV shows; you’d be surprised at the insights and perspectives you gain from this documentary.

Catch Meet the Natives on the National Geographic Channel every Sunday 11pm

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