Bill Nye Saves the World, or at least attempts to. In the first episode of the new Netflix series, Bill Nye tackles climate change with Karlie Kloss, who is one of five regular contributors to Bill Nye Saves the World. The others, who only make an appearance at the beginning of the episode, are Derek Muller, Nazeem Hussain, Emily Calandrelli, and Joanna Hausmann.
“Earth Is a Hot Mess,” the premiere episode, starts with a fandom-pleasing nod to Bill Nye the Science Guy and acknowledges that Bill is quite a bit older than most of his fans with a funny monologue that uses today’s slang. However, Saves the World is very different from Bill Nye’s first series.
This time Bill has a political agenda and blatantly wants to stick it to the Trump administration. Even as someone who agrees with Bill, I found this preachy. The “Bill Needs a Moment” segment tries to be the spiritual successor to “Consider the Following,” but serves as an excuse to let Bill rant. It’s mildly funny and Bill understandably has a few things he wants to get off his chest, but it’s not justifiable. We know he wants to address misinformation and the lack of science education in America, but he would be more successful embracing his goofy side and making science fun than getting on a soapbox.
Saves the World could have continued with the philosophy of addressing the fact everyone is older without ditching the elements that made Bill Nye the Science Guy, a show for children that wasn’t childish, legendary. Bill has already done it successfully with Funny or Die’s “Bill Nye Tackles Deflategate.”
Instead of having Bill Nye the Science Guy’s fun graphics and manic energy, Bill Nye Saves the World features celebrities, such as the rapper Desiigner and Zach Braff, and a panel of scientist and science lovers. This results in a weird hybrid of a late night talk show, Mr. Wizard, a boring Discovery documentary trying too hard to be quirky, and a science version of Meet the Press with the gimmick that Bill hangs out with all these cool celebrities.
While Bill Nye Saves the World is a bust, it’s nice to have Bill Nye back on television, making science entertaining. For the sake of science, Save the World needs to stick around and maybe, with a little feedback, will become something better. Regardless of what happens, a whole generation of Americans now wants to be on the receiving end of Bill Nye’s signature fist bump.