The most interesting aspects of Zac Efron’s travel-slash-sustainability show Down to Earth With Zac Efron are all the things that aren’t explained. Why did Zac Efron randomly decide to do a Netflix show? Does he want to be the next Anthony Bourdain? Who is his friend Darin Olien, how did he become a “guru of healthy living and superfoods,” and what exactly are his credentials? Where did Zac Efron buy all his beanies?
Down to Earth contains eight hour-long episodes in which you’d think we would get a few explanations, but no. Instead, the show gives us a lot of basic explanations of various countries’ approaches to sustainability while Zac Efron looks on and sagely goes, “Wow!” In fact, in an unscientific study I conducted by doing something called “watching every episode of this show for some reason,” roughly 87 percent of what Zac Efron says on the show is some variation of “wow,” “sick,” “whoa,” or “cool.” To be fair, a lot of the things he discovers are pretty cool, but still, you have to be impressed by his capacity to reuse the same observations. That’s sustainability.
Episode 1: Iceland
“Wow!” while watching some bread baking in boiling volcanic sand.
“Whoa!” while watching the water in that sand bubble.
“Really!?” while seeing eggs cooked in that sand.
“Sick!” after being told he’s going to see “one of four geothermal plants in Iceland.”
“Wow!” after a nice Icelandic woman explains how a geothermal turbine works.
“Whoa, cool!” when walking by what appears to be a samurai helmet in a hallway of the geothermal plant, which goes unexplained.
“Wow!” when given a cylinder of solidified carbon dioxide, a waste by-product of geothermal energy.
“Whoa!” as a masseuse rubs hot stones over his body.
“Wow, that looks gnarly,” while observing a chocolate-making machine.
“Wow! Um …” when he eats a chocolate bar he has made with too many extra ingredients.
“Whoa!” while driving up to some hot springs.
“Whoa-ho-ho!” beholding a beautiful Icelandic waterfall.
“Wow!” as he arrives at a power station with a lot of interactive exhibits.
“Wow!” while trying out one of those exhibits, in which he has to push against a wall that lights up.
“Wow!” once he goes underground to see some turbines in the power station basement.
“Cool!” when a chef at a fancy restaurant gives him a carrot.
“Oh wow,” when he eats reindeer for the first time at the fancy restaurant.
Episode 2: France
“Hooray,” to a French physician who gets mad at him for asking bad questions.
“Wow,” to a fancy sparkling water described as “the olive oil of water.”
“Amazing,” to a fancy Spanish sparkling water.
“What?” at hyper-mineral sparkling water that is not allowed in the U.S.
“No way,” to the idea of driving a car into a train that goes through the Chunnel.
“Cool,” to the idea that we should hydrate with good-quality water before doing an activity.
“That’s amazing,” to the Paris deputy mayor’s description of the city’s water policies.
“That’s amazing,” to the idea of sparkling-water fountains in Paris.
“Whoa!” to watching ozone being put into water to remove bacteria.
Episode 3: Costa Rica
“Dude [makes explosion noise]” to learning about a Costa Rican school that approaches learning differently.
“This is crazy,” to eating cacao for the first time.
“Ahh,” to an explanation that microorganisms create gas in your stomach.
“That’s insane,” to a girl who has learned how to calculate a square root with little beads.
“Whoa!” while riding a zip line.
“Epic!” after hitting his head while riding a zip line.
“This is ridiculous, bro!” to arriving on an island full of people in an “ecovillage.”
“Whoa!” upon first using a machete.
Episode 4: Sardinia
“Oh my gosh!” upon learning how “blue zones,” areas where people are exceptionally long-lived, got their name: They used a blue marker to label the map.
“[Explosion noise],” after seeing a genealogical tree of the residents of a small town in a Sardinian blue zone.
“Wow [specifically in an Owen Wilson voice],” while eating nougat.
“Wow,” upon milking a sheep.
Episode 5: Lima
“Awesome,” after meeting a man who “knows a thing or two about apples.”
“No kidding,” after learning that most American apples were originally cultivated for cider.
“Wow!” after tasting syrup made from yacón, a root similar to the potato.
“Sick!” when he first sees some very big sand dunes.
Episode 6: Puerto Rico
“Whoa! Sick!” while walking around San Juan.
“So cool,” after eating some lemon basil.
“Wow!” upon seeing a mahi-mahi in real life for the first time.
“Beautiful!” before eating some ceviche.
Episode 7: London
“Really?” after learning about London’s air pollution.
“Cool!” while learning about some bees in London.
“Whoa!” while sliding down a big funnel slide for some reason.
“Unbelievable!” after eating a vegan curry.
Episode 8: Iquitos
“Beautiful!” after picking a camu-camu berry.
“Whew!” after tasting some supposedly medicinal bark.
“That’s so money!” after tasting some bataua milk with coffee.
“Money!” while being put into a one-size-fits-all tree-climbing harness.
“Wow!” while feeding plant milk to a manatee after learning that manatees are lactose intolerant (“Me too, buddy!”).