The Number of Celebrity Travel Shows Is Too Damn High

Macaulay Culkin has become the latest to announce he has a travelogue in the works, the aptly named "Macaulay Culkin’s Midlife Crisis"

February 5, 2022 6:23 am
Stanley Tucci, Macaulay Culkin and Eugene Levy are among the rash of celebrities who recently chartered their own travel series
Stanley Tucci, Macaulay Culkin and Eugene Levy are among the rash of celebrities who recently chartered their own travel series
Carlos Alvarez/Amy Sussman/Rich Fury/Getty

Macaulay Culkin is 41, which apparently means two things: he’s grappling with a midlife crisis and is subsequently deserving of his own travel series. The resulting Lightbox-produced show is to be called Macaulay Culkin’s Midlife Crisis and will follow the child star in his pursuit of answers to existential questions that, per a report from Deadline, include: “How should we embrace getting older in a society obsessed with youth?” “What is midlife success and how do we measure it?” And “How do we ensure unbridled passion doesn’t become a relic of our youth?”

“Wow, Lightbox. Thanks for reminding me I’m in my 40s,” Culkin quipped in a statement after the show was announced. “Well, rather than make a big deal about it I figure we should just make a show about it. Makes sense.”

“Mack remains as iconic and as loved as ever — a social media sensation, internet entrepreneur and hard-working member of his pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band,” Lightbox added. “Despite his legendary status, like the rest of us he’s having to confront what it means to be a normal middle-aged guy, with a wife and a new kid who’s soon going to be the same age he was when he became a massive global superstar. We are thrilled to be working through our mid-life crises with him on this exciting project.”

Culkin joins an increasingly long list of celebrities who’ve inked deals with major networks — the likes of whom include Zac Efron, Chris Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Sam Heughan and Eugene Levy — to produce travelogues of their own. And while they all purport to address different topics through travel (Culkin: aging; Hemsworth and Efron: wellness; Tucci: food; Levy: his aversion to travel), the fact remains that each and every one of these shows is essentially the same thing: a cheap knockoff of the two inimitable docuseries made by the late Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations and Parts Unknown).

Now don’t get me wrong: I enjoy most of the aforementioned actors’ work, and I’ve even enjoyed some of their travel series. I’m admittedly intrigued by Levy’s impending show — The Reluctant Traveler — as I think there is potentially more to be gleaned from following a trepid traveler like Levy than the Efrons and Hemsworths of the world. But how many celebrity-fronted travel shows is too many celebrity-fronted travel shows?  Do we really need to watch Culkin unpack what it means to be 40 as he presumably traverses the same handful of countries and destinations as his predecessors?

Further, despite the volume, we’re not exactly getting diverse perspectives on what it’s like to travel all over the world: each of the hosts listed above is — surprise! — a famous, heterosexual white male. Obviously the experience of traveling in foreign countries varies hugely based on identity, and it feels like a huge disservice not to capitalize on that fact. There’s so much potential for good television in the travel space; unfortunately, production companies seem content carrying on with the status quo.


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