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August 13, 2018 | by  | in TV | [ssba]


Departures started in 2008 as a show about two friends at a crossroads in their lives, making the decision to pack their bags and travel the world for a year. Scott Wilson hosts the show with his childhood friend Justin Lukach, while Andre Dupois directs and films their adventures abroad. The show was conceived while Andre and Scott worked on another travel show, and realised that it didn’t accurately capture their “feelings” while they travelled. This focus on self discovery, and overcoming physical and mental obstacles while abroad, distinguishes Departures from other travel serials.
When I started Departures, I was dejected and disgruntled with the state of my life and more widely, the state of the world. Departures didn’t necessarily solve any of the problems that I was fixating on, but it did make me feel better. This is partly in thanks to the genuine spirit of adventure, awe, and curiosity with which Scott and Justin experience each country.
At its most basic, they’re two very average white dudes experiencing different cultures. They tread the line of being ignorant travellers who are stunned by the existence of other cultures and how “different” they are. Referring to Scott and Justin as a couple of privileged frat boys is an easy criticism to make; there are whole episodes in the first season where the pair border upon being disrespectful tourists in a foreign country. There’s something to be said though about their willingness to learn and throughout the series they become genuinely better individuals. By its final season, having travelled all over the world, the pair are much more appreciative and seasoned travellers, taking respectful and learned approaches to foreign traditions and culture.

The charm of the show does come from the averageness of the pair. They represent that innate desire present in all of us who wish to travel, to escape our current situations, and take in everything the world has to offer. Unlike other grandiose travel shows, Scott and Justin’s experiences of the world are on a tight budget, with the pair avoiding popular tourist hot-spots in favour of more genuine perspectives of each nation they visit. Over the course of their journey, they interact with locals, form long-lasting friendships, and experience the smaller, more beautiful features of the countries they visit. The pair possess a child-like charm that reminded me of my own travel experiences, and the excitement of being in a different environment.
Whether it be hiring rickshaws in India for the purpose of jousting or playing hide and seek in the abandoned city of Ghadames, the show is a serving of wholesome fun that keeps the focus on the optimistic, brighter experiences that life has to offer.
Despite its budget, Departures cinematography is both awe-inspiring and real. The show depicts each country through the pair’s eyes, wandering through gorgeous vistas, cultural landmarks, and welcoming locales. Departures does touch on the difficulties that people face in their respective countries, but it generally approaches the world through inquisitive and optimistic eyes. While this isn’t groundbreaking videography or documentary-making, the show aims to capture the magic present in the travelling experience.
After watching Departures, it’s hard not to feel like packing your bags and setting out for an overseas experience. Beyond travelling the globe, the show inspired me to generally appreciate what our environment does have to offer. It instilled a desire to go outside and explore what I could access immediately in my own backyard. Sure, Departures doesn’t tackle any serious issues, but it’s a wonderful catalyst for adventure and a reminder of that nagging itch to travel.


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