Entertainment

Why Is Zac Efron Hosting a Netflix Travel Show?

Just a chill time talking about sustainability with the bros.

efron
Netflix

Within the first seconds of Zac Efron's new Netflix show Down to Earth a disembodied voice says, "That's Mother Earth, bro." And to be honest, that's really all you need to know to get the vibes of Efron's foray into travel programming down. It's about bros bro-ing out and seeing and eating cool things around the world, bro. 

Efron, probably still best known for his High School Musical days, has pivoted into travel television, fancying himself a jacked hybrid between Anthony Bourdain and Bear Grylls. (Which ultimately begs the question: Do we really need more of this?) Down to Earth is a genial entry into this area; the pitch is that Efron hops around the globe learning about sustainability. It's also about having a chill time hanging with your dudes, making movie references, and eating cool food. 

What's the deal here? 

Efron, who most recently played Ted Bundy in the Netflix movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, is making sort of a general pivot to adventure programming. There's Down to Earth, but he also has a Quibi show in the works called Killing Zac Efron that apparently nearly killed him during shooting. (He contracted a bacterial infection. He's fine now.) Efron has sprinkled in his love of the outdoors throughout his Instagram for some time now, but Down to Earth marks his transition into full-on mountain man. 

In Down to Earth, Efron narrates his experiences with an almost charming naiveté. He constantly makes movie references and sounds practically giddy when he learns a new fact. (Have you ever wanted to hear Zac Efron explain circadian rhythm to you? Then Down to Earth should be on your queue.) It's like having the nicest frat boy talk to you about saving the planet from the effects of climate change. 
 

Where does he go? 

Down to Earth starts off in Iceland where Efron makes bread in volcanic soil, tours a geothermal plant, and gets a massage. He then heads to France for an episode focused on water. Later on he hits Sardinia where he muses about leaving Hollywood and then directly contradicts himself before trying to find the secret to a long life. Later, he does ayahuasca in the Amazon. Netflix seems to have a thing about celebs endorsing psychedelic retreats: Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop show had a mushrooms episode. 

Who is his co-host, Darin Olien? 

All this time, Efron is traveling alongside his pal, Darin Olien, who he says in the intro he met a "few years ago." Olien is a lifestyle guru who wrote the book SuperLife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome. In the interest of living the healthiest life possible he is also behind companies like Barùkas, which sells what is deemed the "healthiest nuts on the planet," and Greenpath, which "offers a suite of advanced green products that utilize nanotechnology to create an entirely new surface that cannot be felt or seen by the human eye." Olien acts as the expert to Efron's newbie, but he's also there to be his bro, encouraging him to take risks. 

Does Efron drink fancy water with Anna Kendrick? 

Yes, at the beginning of episode 2, he and Olien take Anna Kendrick, Efron's costar in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, to Petit Ermitage in LA to sample water with a water sommelier. Kendrick, accurately, cracks that she feels like she's being punk'd, but all three are impressed with the varieties of fancy ass water. 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.