Stephen Fry, a British actor and entertainer, explores all 50 of the United States in his stylish English taxi cab in this documentary. Produced by the BBC in 2009, this six-part series examines not only the well-known historical markers of particulars states, but also some lesser known ones as well. From bluegrass pickin’ parlors in Tennessee to Ted Turner’s buffalo ranch in Montana, Stephen Fry takes his viewers through a truly unique panorama of American experiences.
There is a clear British bias as Stephen clashes with American culture. While in many cases he is open-minded and interested in new things, other times he is extremely critical of the American government, the high societies he finds in places like Manhattan, Vegas and Houston, and some of the kitschy tourist stops such as Mount Rushmore. Overall however, through Stephen’s wit and humor and as his conversations with down-to-earth, average Americans, he makes it clear that while there are some things he dislikes about America, he shows great respect to the American people.
We really enjoyed this tour of America and were excited so learn about people and places off the beaten path of mainstream American tourism. It was refreshing to see the 50 states from a non-American perspective, and we found ourselves agreeing with many of his critiques and laughing at his sense of humor. Although each episode is about an hour, we were never bored with the show; Between Fry’s magnetism and the interesting stops he chose, we always wanted to see more.
Two elements of the show were disappointing to us. First, while he’ll spend 15 or more minutes on one state, which we’ll love, he’ll completely skip another state with no more than 30 seconds of driving and a few spoken sentences about the state. Colorado, for example, was almost completely left out. Our other complaint was that one of the stops included a lengthy tour of a historical brothel, which is still in business today.
Overall, we really enjoyed Stephen Fry in America and would recommend it for both the “history buff” or those who know nothing about America. This is one documentary we would watch again at some point, as there is so much to learn about each state and Stephen Fry keeps you entertained along the way.
“I shouldn’t be saying this – high treason, really – but I sometimes wonder if Americans aren’t fooled by our accent into detecting brilliance that may not really be there.” -Stephen Fry at the Golden Globes
Doug and Nicole