For those who enjoyed Bill Nye’s first foray on Netflix, this is probably good news: Bill Nye Saves the World is coming back for a second season on Netflix! It’s easy to want to celebrate the move, given that Nye is a beloved entertainer — Bill Nye the Science Guy is iconic entertainment, and arguably one of the greatest shows ever produced for that specific audience of children / teenagers learning about science.
So why was Bill Nye Saves the World so underwhelming, given our love for Nye and some of what he’s capable of producing? Much of that comes down nostalgia not always paying off in the present, but some other factors to boot.
1. The format – Nye is not a talk show host. That’s not his skill set. He’s an educator and a demonstrator, and he works best in intimate environments where he can be creative. Bill Nye Saves the World is the equivalent of turning Reading Rainbow into a talk show — it wasn’t broken in its original form, and it could be brought back to something similar.
2. The audience – Who was Bill Nye Saves the World for? It felt at times like it was trying to be for teenagers and young adults with the celebrities and the cheesy humor, but these people probably didn’t grow up on Science Guy. If Bill wants to grow his show up, he should consider something a little more similar to Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, where he takes things on the road and talks a little bit further about science topics outside of a studio with an audience. If he has a lab, just keep it small and simple. Give some science education, but design it for viewers who have grown up with you.
3. The correspondents – These people were fine, but you’re watching a Bill Nye show to see Bill Nye and it’d be more fascinating to see him doing these segments. The interviews in turn are more interesting when Bill doesn’t have to moderate a conversation. Once again, not his skill set.
The more Bill Nye Saves the world becomes like an adult Science Guy show for season 2, the better off it will be. As it is, it’s a messy talk show with a great personality who’s just been shoved out of his element to a place he’s not comfortable. We don’t have any problem with the dad jokes — Nye always had those. We also have no problem with the politics. The big issue right now is that it’s putting a intentionally-square scientist into a round test tube. (Photo: Netflix.)