The Mating Game Review: Discovery+ New Landmark Docuseries

From Silverback Films in co-production with NHK, bilibili, and France Télévisions comes The Mating Game, a five-part docuseries produced for BBC, Discovery and Discovery+.

The brand new series launched on November 21, with the first two episodes dropping simultaneously on the Discovery+ streaming platform and the remaining three being released weekly thereafter.

This docuseries takes its viewers around the world to witness the fascinating, bizarre, and sometimes even never-before-seen mating rituals of over 80 different animal species!

Spanning 22 countries across six continents, the stunning visuals and accompanying stories make The Mating Game both an educational and entertaining experience.

Even better, it’s narrated by celebrated historian, author, and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough!

If you thought that the search for the ideal partner was daunting as a human, you have no idea. The various ways animals have to court and win over their partners is an entirely different story altogether.

Some species have just ONE day each year to find and mate with an ideal partner, while others will be constantly producing offspring every day… for years. Some change partners every mating season while others will find one and stay with them forever, and still, some others will have multiple partners at the same time.

The Mating Game is here to take us from vast grasslands to the deepest oceans just to show how dangerous, diverse, and beautiful the mating game can be.

Having the opportunity to review the first two episodes of The Mating Game was an unexpected and highly entertaining experience, and I’m definitely going to be watching each remaining episode as they are released over the next few weeks.

Here are some of the things I love about it:

The variety – it’s a trip around the world to see animals I’d never have the chance to learn about otherwise

When they said they’d take us to six continents to see species across the entire Animal Kingdom, they weren’t kidding.

In these two episodes alone, we traveled from the grasslands of Africa to the plains of Australia, down to the depths of the sea, and back up to where the sea ends: the coastal lagoons of Portugal and the mangroves of Argentina.

On this journey, we followed the mating rituals for the kangaroo, ostrich, termite, humpback whale, nursery web spider, manta ray, clownfish, flatworm, seahorse, fiddler crab, and sea lion – and that’s not even everything!

I can’t even begin to imagine where we’ll go and what we’ll see in the other three episodes.

A truly entertaining yet still educational experience

You’d think that with that many different kinds of animals being followed, it would be too much of an information overload and the learning journey would no longer be enjoyable. However, that’s not the case at all.

When I say they used layman’s terms to explain everything, I mean that even a child could understand it.

As someone with no scientific background, least of all in zoology, and whose least favorite subject throughout her school days was science, this was something I truly appreciated. There was none of that flashy, highfalutin vocabulary like scientific names or kingdom classifications, no terminology for their rituals or actions.

The voiceover narration was exactly that: a simple, straightforward narration.

That doesn’t mean viewers won’t learn from the series, though. In fact, it’s really quite the opposite.

We’re still treated to the occasional random fact about these animals – now I know that the kick of an ostrich is strong enough to kill a lion, flatworms are neither male nor female, and with seahorses it’s the male that bears the responsibility of carrying the eggs and giving birth. Who would’ve known?

A pair of flatworms mating, in a bizarre mating ritual known as ‘penis fencing’, where each flatworm tries to stab and penetrate the other (Photo by Silverback Films)

Each segment is a story on its own but everything connects seamlessly

Personally, I love a good documentary, be it a series or a film. I view them as a way to learn about the world in the most interesting, real way possible: real-life footage and the stories of those actually involved.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Mating Game because, well, animals can’t exactly give their own account of events, can they?

But to add to what I said about using layman’s terms, they also did so in a way that told these animals’ stories for us.

It wasn’t about just spouting facts left and right; they almost personified the animals and took us from start to finish like they were telling us a love story. Sometimes hilarious and always dramatic, each story was so well-expressed that I became so invested in their journeys, to the point where I actually found myself rooting for them like they were main characters in a movie!

Even the way the series transitioned from one species to another was seamless and didn’t just jump around from one scene to another.

For example, once we went into the ocean we got to learn about many different kinds of fish and other creatures. After that, we slowly transitioned back to land by going “where the sea ends”, in mangroves and lagoons.

The coherence between the different stories was just *chef’s kiss*, in my opinion.

The footage is beautiful

I honestly have no words to describe it. It’s all crystal clear and just plain beautiful.

I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of hard work and patience went into securing all of those videos, from aerial shots of migrating zebras, swimming through a breathtaking coral community, and even all the way inside of a termite hill.

Not to mention capturing the one day in the entire year that a certain species can mate! It’s truly mind-blowing and incredible.

That being said, I feel like this should also come with a heads up. Because the footage is so clear and at times very, very close and detailed, certain shots may trigger discomfort. After all, some mating rituals can get quite violent and this may be something you’ll need to look away from at times.

All in all, The Mating Game is definitely a must-watch, especially if you love animals and learning.

Although there are only five parts, it’s packed full of enough knowledge to last you for ages – though I surely wouldn’t be averse to a second installment!

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