The Discovery Channel is a truly wonderful television network. Viewers can learn about all sorts of things — crab fishing in icy northern waters, fighting robots, the lives of billionaires — all on one channel. How cool is that? Discovery is a place for all things strange and off-the-beaten-path. It’s an especially great channel to watch with kids. The content is interesting enough to stimulate adults, all while teaching young minds new things about the world around them. Win-win!
However, not every show on the network is kid-friendly. With many programs featuring mature content like nudity, illegal activity, and harsh conditions, there are plenty of shows you might want to steer clear of if you’re watching with the younger members of your family. To avoid some potentially sticky situations ("Mommy, why can’t we have a moonshine still?"), here’s a list of the Discovery Channel shows you shouldn’t watch with your kids.
You know, the naked one: "Naked and Afraid"
Starting with the obvious here — nudity does not typically equal kid-friendly. "Naked and Afraid," as the name suggests, is a show where a pair of contestants strip down to the nude and attempt to survive in the middle of nowhere for three weeks. While they can each bring one item, such as a knife or fire starter, they are otherwise limited to their bare hands (and bums!) and whatever they can rustle up in the woods.
"Naked and Afraid" is pretty much as grueling as survival shows get, with contestants facing extreme weather and severe lack of food. The sheer amount of exposed surface area, thanks to the whole nudity premise, leaves contestants with some gnarly bugbites and wounds. If that wasn’t enough, the constant threat of being mauled by a wild animal puts some contestants into a tailspin. Things can get pretty personal when contestants are pushed to their absolute physical and mental limits, as seen in this episode (via Discovery Channel Southeast Asia), and the resulting heated arguments might not be suitable for children. Incredibly entertaining, yes, but maybe a little too intense for your youngster.
With that being said, if your kid is going to be exposed to naked bodies on screen, this is probably the least offensive example. The contestants rarely take their situation to a sexual place (thanks in large part to the dire conditions they face), and after watching them putz around in their birthday suits for 10 minutes or so, you kind of forget that anything is out of the ordinary.
Fish, but with teeth on "Chasing Monsters"
In "Chasing Monsters," host Cyril Chaquet tracks down large, freaky fish around the globe and confronts them head on. Throughout his adventures, Chaquet has been swarmed by sharks and dragged underwater by a giant Bolivian catfish, proving that monster hunting is just as dangerous as it sounds (via Youtube). Somehow, though, he seems to be enjoying himself most of the time. In his victories he’ll hoist the beasts out of the water, showing the viewer hundreds of pounds of gills and teeth and squirming flesh. How … delightful?
While being a part of this whole monster-chasing thing sounds like absolute hell even for some adults, there’s a decent chance your kid will think it’s really cool. Who knows, they could even be inspired to become a marine biologist after watching Chaquet have a field day out in fish-infested waters. While a career in the fish sciences is certainly a possibility, the far more likely outcome is a sudden fear of anything wet. "Chasing Monsters" will probably give your kid nightmares for a month, and you’ll be forced to rock them back to sleep — but not too smoothly, lest your safe arms start to feel like an ocean dingy cruising for sharksville. On second thought, probably best to turn off the TV and try a humble trip to the aquarium instead.
Sparring with death on "Hard to Kill"
"Hard to Kill" was thought up by host Tim Kennedy, a former military man who wanted to try the most difficult jobs in the country as a tribute to America’s workers. As seen in this Youtube video, Kennedy’s patriotism entails wrangling bulls, crashing planes, and blowing things up in his near vicinity. You know, classic American stuff.
While his is an admirable cause, it might not be suitable for younger audiences. Watching a man repeatedly put himself in death’s path is probably too stressful for your little tyke. Even though Kennedy always ends up fine, things don’t always look like they will turn out so peachy. An article on the show from Task & Purpose even ran with the headline, "Tim Kennedy Spars with Death," which doesn’t exactly scream kid-friendly. Plus, if you’re really unlucky, your kid might think one of these dangerous jobs is cool enough to become their chosen profession. But little Timmy, your father was a Yale man!
Hunting mega-snakes on "Guardians of the Glades"
"Guardians of the Glades" is about a group of Floridians who take it upon themselves to rid the Everglades of an invasive species of snake. The catch is, these snakes aren’t just any slithering critters, they’re Burmese pythons — yes, the giant constricting snakes that can grow up to 26 feet long and 200 pounds, says the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and are "excellent swimmers" to boot, according to National Geographic. Akin to "Chasing Monsters," these beasts could make even the most well-adjusted adult squirm in their seat.
The show consists of a series of romps in the swamp a la man vs. beast. Scenes are jam-packed with stress, with the cast trying to wrangle as many of the giant monsters as they can before breeding season. This entails following the creatures into the water, harrowing night hunts, and even purposefully seeking out nests — that’s right, they have nests — to destroy.
Needless to say, most kids don’t need to think about the possibility of giant man-crushing snakes living in their backyard. There’s a chance your kid won’t be scared of the writhing beasts on the screen, and if so, bully for you! However, if you want them to see a snake in the wild and not try to touch it (it’s a healthy fear, people!), this show is probably not for your family.
Illegal Hooch in the Backwoods with "Moonshiners"
The show "Moonshiners" follows the operations of a host of illegal moonshiners, all trying to make their living while outmaneuvering the cops. Typical episodes will profile two or three operations, who traipse around the backwoods of the Appalachian mountains looking for discreet places to hide their stills. A lot of the shiners, as they call themselves, also take part in some mob-like activities, like secret meetings in back rooms and getting tricked with fake product, as shown by Discovery UK. It takes a lot to find success in this kind of operation, and "Moonshiners" gives viewers an exclusive look on exactly how the shiners get the job done.
"Moonshiners" also gives an in-depth look at the hunt for illegal shiners. The two main groups portrayed by the show are the shiners themselves and the host of law enforcement officers tasked with arresting them and killing the illegal alcohol industry. Cops are regularly filmed sniffing around the woods to see if they can catch the illegal whiskey makers, with the shiners finding innovative ways to booby trap or to hide their stills.
If you think this sounds like entertaining television, then feel free to watch it on your own time. However, probably best to keep the kiddos away from this one. It’s not exactly setting a great example, unless you want your kid to become that special kind of entrepreneur. Plus, some of the cop-chase scenes can be pretty stressful and not suitable for younger audiences.
Nature’s fury on "Rogue Earth"
"Rogue Earth" is a show about extreme natural disasters. From earthquakes to tornadoes and tsunamis, this show details particularly nasty events and their aftermaths. It’s no wonder this show made it onto the Discovery Channel, because the footage is really amazing (via Discovery Channel Canada) – the giant column of a tornado, fires engulfing entire cities, and mudslides taking out entire stretches of highway. "Rogue Earth" shows the sheer power of Mother Nature at her worst.
Although it is genuinely astounding to witness such events, much of the content may be jarring for kids, including homes destroyed by winds and flash floods, and distressed people reporting first-hand accounts of living through disasters. While natural disasters of this scale are somewhat infrequent, there’s nothing like some in-depth coverage to put the fear of God in a child. If you ever want your kid to hear a breeze again without dragging you to the downstairs bathroom (the safest place in the event of a tornado, says the Storm Prediction Center), "Rogue Earth" is probably to be avoided.
Fishing at its most dangerous on "Deadliest Catch"
"Deadliest Catch" profiles the crews that risk their lives to bring Alaskan king crab to buffets across America. The seas are rough, and the job is incredibly dangerous — in fact, it is the second most dangerous job in America with a fatality rate of 74.2 in 100,000, according to Industrial Safety and Hygiene News. "Deadliest Catch" gives viewers a first-hand look into the treachery of the job, with workers nearly getting crushed by machinery or thrown overboard into the freezing water, which can induce hypothermia in a matter of minutes without a "survival suit," as shown by Discovery.
The show also famously gets up-close and personal with the rowdy crews, who have a variety of coping mechanisms for the stresses of the job. You get to see their lives behind the scenes, from long nights at the bottom of the bottle to fist fights and traumatic bonding moments. Deckhands are constantly getting fired for their antics, and captains discipline their crews with an iron fist. Producers even kept filming as one captain suffered a stroke (via Zap2it) that ultimately ended his life and filmed the reaction of his colleagues when they heard the news. The combination of fighting crews, rough conditions, and the intense stress of the job makes this show unsuitable for younger audiences.
An underwater gold rush on "Bering Sea Gold"
Created by the same folks from "Deadliest Catch," "Bering Sea Gold" profiles a crew of divers hunting for gold off the Alaskan coast. The job is incredibly dangerous and involves heavy machinery, deep diving in super cold temperatures, and a whole load of stress. The industry of deep-sea mining is a relatively new one, with few legal safety measures or environmental protections, notes National Geographic. The draw is that it can be incredibly lucrative, with an estimated $150 trillion worth of gold sitting on the world’s sea floor.
Just like "Deadliest Catch" showed the world, no matter how much you plan for a dangerous operation, things can go wrong very fast. This is especially true of the winter dredging season, which one cast member describes as "a thousand times more dangerous than summertime dredging" (via Discovery UK). In one winter episode, one of the divers gets her air line stuck on a giant block of ice. The very equipment made to keep her safe tethered her under the water and blocked her oxygen flow.
Additionally, this kid-ban should extend to similar shows such as "Gold Rush: Whitewater" (searching for gold in the Alaskan mountains amid raging streams, tall crags, and wild animals) and "Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail" (searching for gold along the Klondike route that claimed the lives of thousands in the late 19th century). Each show has its own set of treacherous conditions, crew member fights, and other content generally unfriendly to younger audiences.
Extreme highway rescue on "Highway Thru Hell"
"Highway Thru Hell" follows a heavy rescue company as they try and keep a British Columbia highway clear and operable. The road is called the Coquihalla Highway, and it connects Vancouver to the northern cities of Edmonton and Calgary. Its physical position makes it both economically essential (it is the shortest route between the cities) and very treacherous. As the highway winds through the 4,000-foot Coquihalla Pass, drivers can expect black ice, falling debris, and the occasional avalanche. The altitude can even come with subzero temperatures, sometimes as low as -22 Fahrenheit, according to DangerousRoads.org. To make matters worse, the treacherous conditions make accidents along the two-lane stretch of the highway incredibly hard to clear, sometimes forcing unlucky travelers to brave the cold and sleep in their cars.
Basically, it’s literally a highway through a frigid hellscape, and this show documents the many trials and tribulations of keeping it open. The job is incredibly daunting, requiring skill and precision made difficult by the size of the vehicles (often large cargo vehicles) that need to be towed under frigid conditions. Typical episodes include a lot of snow and ice, semi trucks flipped off the side of the highway, and men almost being squished on the side of the road by heavy machinery. Not only is this show incredibly stressful, but it’s enough to make any sane human refuse to drive in the snow again. Definitely best to steer clear of this one with your little ones.
Animal abuse and murder on "Surviving Joe Exotic"
It turns out Joe Exotic was getting a lot of attention in 2018. Discovery’s Animal Planet filmed a limited series about him just four months before his arrest on murder-for-hire charges (via The New York Times), which played out in depth on Netflix’s early quarantine hit "Tiger King." Discovery’s show was released after the fact, so while it skims some of the same material, it seeks to tell a different story — that of the animals who were neglected and abused in his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.
While the special mostly focuses on the animals, if you watch this with your child, you’re still going to have a lot of ‘explaining to do — specifically about the details of murder plots, animal abuse, and drug use, just to name a few topics. The story of Exotic’s personal life and zoo were horrifying enough to leave an impression on the adults who watched his Netflix special and is largely territory you won’t want to explore with you kids. Not to mention, Discovery’s show spotlights the animal abuse in Exotic’s park, which is enough to put any grown adult into a funk. For example, Discovery’s docuseries shows Exotic trying to sell the tigers to "anyone who would buy them" and pawning off animals with illness that he saw as nothing but "a bill in his eyes." As fun and kid-friendly as an exotic animal park may sound, it’s definitely best to keep your kids away from this show.
A dangerous and illegal hobby on "Street Outlaws"
"Street Outlaws" profiles street racers as they pursue their dangerous and illegal hobby. The show gets the viewer up close and personal with street racing culture, from the speedy cars in Oklahoma City to specialists who turn old and beat up vehicles into racing machines. You also get to follow the entire journey of a racer, from hard work in the garage to the races themselves.
Street racing can be pretty stressful for those involved, and tensions often boil over on the track. Physical fights have broken out multiple times on the show, in addition to some nasty crashes. Due to the illegal nature of the sport, run-ins with the cops are to be expected, as depicted in this clip from Discovery. Many of the scenes in the show feature such adult content, and for that reason, "Street Outlaws" is a poor choice for watching with your kids.
While critics of the show are quick to decry its lack of authenticity, as per Hot Cars, the show nonetheless doesn’t set a great example for children. Street racing is arguably cool (hey, that’s why they made the show to begin with), but a show glorifying illegal activity is probably not the best for the young and impressionable.