The BBC has sent six British women to be “second wives” to so-called “tribesmen” in - according to the BBC “some of the world’s most remote communities". “Any anthropologist feels pleased when the hidden peoples of the world get a chance to appear on television, but the BBC series Tribal Wives is misleading", anthropologist Michael Stewart comments in The Guardian.
The tv-programm, he writes, gives us “a romantic notion of a Shangri-La", based on the idea “that we have lost something that only the “savage” can teach us". This film claims to be a window on another world, but we mainly learn about what it means to be a westerner in that situation.
Steward watched the episode about a British woman who spent a month with the Huaorani in Ecuador. Their village is far from isolated. It is a well-known eco-tourism destination with an airstrip in the middle of the village, according to the anthropologist.
In a comment on the Survial International blog, Guy Edwards writes that the “overall impression was that of a circus where Huaorani culture was portrayed as simple and backward” and adds: “The BBC and/or the other production organisations involved should apologize and compensate the Huaorani for any damages.”
For more info on the programm, see UK women to become ‘tribal wives’ (BBC 10.11.06) How the Waorani tribe made me relax (BBC 24.6.08), Mudhut life for Lana enough to drive her away from drink (Evening News Edinburgh 2.7.08) and a more positive review in The Times by Caitlin Moran Tribal Wives - the acceptable face of reality TV from the BBC