Sir David Attenborough has done it again, taking us deep into the animal kingdom to examine five families of endangered species in BBC America’s natural history docu-series Dynasties, Saturdays at 9/8c.
In the series opener, Attenborough gives us some background on the overarching theme, saying, “The family is one of the most powerful forces in nature. Family life is full of wonder, beauty and… drama.”
Each episode is dedicated to a different animal family at a crucial point in life. Here are five stories that will ultimately determine their fate… it all relies on the leaders, who you can meet below:
1. Charm, the mama lion raising a family.
The first episode focuses on Charm, the defender. Charm is a single mom, raising four lion cubs in Kenya, Africa’s Masai Mara. Charm and her female cousin, Sienna, are the only elders left in their pride after the males mysteriously abandon them. Vulnerable to buffalo, hyenas, rival prides, and clashes with humanity, Charm must take on the role of both hunter and protector. The future of this dynasty depends entirely on this mother’s “strength and determination.” Will she be able to raise her cubs to adulthood?
If we were to put this into pop culture terms, Charm’s story makes us think of the TV series One Day at a Time — which originally aired from 1975-1984 and was rebooted in 2017 — revolving around a single mom raising her teen children:
2. David, the chimpanzee whose reign is coming to an end.
Next up, we meet David, the ruler. He’s the charismatic alpha male of a group of chimpanzees in Senegal, West Africa. That is, for now. He’s been overseeing about 32 chimps for the past three years, and his rivals are very eager to steal his throne — and would gladly kill him in the process. Like any head honcho, especially one who knows he will be stepping down soon, David wants to choose who will take over his reign. In episode two, we’ll see if he is able to hold onto his alpha role at least long enough to “sire an heir.”
David’s power struggles bring to mind more than one king in Game of Thrones‘ Seven Kingdoms.George R.R. Martin would approve.
3. Tait, matriarch of one of the last great painted wolf families.
As Attenborough alluded to in the intro, we can expect some intense familial drama. Enter: Tait, the painted wolf pack leader, and Blacktip, her rebel daughter. Tait rules on the banks of Zambezi river in Zimbabwe. She’s been standing watch for five years and has a successful track record of keeping the peace. Alas, Tait’s own daughter, Blacktip, is eyeing her mother’s land. Blacktip’s own pack has grown to 30 wolves and they are outgrowing their territory.
The painted wolves are known to be cooperative and “thrive through remarkable teamwork,” says Attenborough in episode three. However Blacktip’s planning a hostile takeover and Tait has no idea what’s coming.
The saga between Tait and Blacktip makes us think of Arrested Development‘s Lucille and Lindsay Bluthe’s relationship. Lindsay always puts herself first and it would not be surprising if she were to turn on her mother.
4. Raj Bhera, the female tiger protecting her idyllic territory.
Episode four introduces us to tigress Raj Bhera, the protector. Raj is another feline mama, but unlike Charm’s brood, Raj’s cubs are newborns. She is charged with looking after her infants while protecting the lush territory they occupy in India’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. One might think since the tigers live in a reserve made for them that they are safe… but nope, not from rival tigers. According to Attenborough, “Her cubs are vulnerable and will remain so for the next two years.” Raj has some serious work ahead of her.
Raj’s story makes us think of the Australian comedy, The Letdown, where new mom Audrey finds out just how hard it is to manage daily life and raising a newborn.
5. The Survivors of the Emperor penguins.
And, finally, episode five starts off during autumn in Atka Bay, on the coast of Antarctica. We hear Attenborough describe the elements, “Just a few weeks ago, this was open sea. Now, a new frozen landscape is forming.” This world appears devoid of life, but then we see one lone figure coming out of the snowy mist… an Emperor penguin! And, he is actually not alone. Thousands of penguins are heading to the bay to colonize, and keep each other warm through the winter months. The episode takes us through the story of their fight for survival and who will carry on the dynasty of Emperors. In this case, it’s not just one leader… the approximately 11,000 penguins must work together to overcome the harsh climate of their frigid home.
And what shall these penguins do once winter has passed? Dance, of course. Let’s help them celebrate with a peek at Happy Feet.
Do any of these families remind you of your own!?Read More