Back in January, Oprah Winfrey launched her network; OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network). Since its start, the network has received poor reviews from critics and has struggled with ratings. However, OWN features a thought-provoking documentary series, “Our America with Lisa Ling,” which is the network’s standout program. “Our America” explores some of the most controversial and culturally taboo issues in the United States, such as faith healers, transgenders, outcast sex offenders, online brides, and heroin addicts.
The series is hosted by investigative journalist, Lisa Ling, contributor to ABC News’ “Nightline” and National Geographic’s “Explorer” as well as field correspondent for “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.
“Our America with Lisa Ling” premiered Tuesday, February 15 with “Faith Healers.” This first episode offers us a look into a faith healing revival at a church in South Carolina run by evangelist Todd Bently.
The episode profiles several people who have traveled great distances and spent hundreds of dollars to be healed by the supposed miracle-worker. The show’s second week featured an episode subtitled, “Transgender Lives.” Ling examined the lives of five different transgender Americans, both male-to-female transgenders and female-to-male transgenders, ranging from the ages of six to a woman in her 50s.
Since the show’s debut six weeks ago, Ling has exposed viewers to topics often avoided in society in a way that does not tell you what to think, but rather allows audiences to understand different perspectives and make their own judgments. Ling’s investigative style is a respectful and unbiased way of questioning skeptics and believers, sympathizers and opponents.
“Our America” has received mixed reviews from critics, while some are fans of the new series, others find Ling’s work to be poorly researched and a lazy attempt at a hard-hitting documentary with important facts left out on each issue covered.
Nevertheless, I find “Our America with Lisa Ling” to be enlightening and quite interesting. Although each episode may not cover everything available on the topic at hand, I feel Ling and her team make good use of the hour they are provided with for each issue, giving unaware viewers enough facts to, at the least, create an informed audience.
A show with substance that prompts many questions, “Our America with Lisa Ling” is the best that OWN has to offer and is worth your time. “Our America” comes on Tuesday nights at 10:00pm on OWN. This week’s episode: “Heroin in the Heartland.”
Shawn Manning is a second year communications major and can be reached at SM749898@wcupa.edu.