What is it really like for those who live and work along the U.S.-Mexico border? That’s the question that drives Discovery’s all-new six-part multi-platform series Border Live. Broadcast live from its New York-based studio, Bill Weir will anchor the show and track the action and stories as they unfold live from the U.S.-Mexico border. Offering on the ground reporting will be investigative journalist Lilia Luciano, who’ll be interviewing a number of people who live and work along the border. In fact, the show has already secured with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and set up a team of experts to provide context and insight including Lenny DePaul, a retired Chief Inspector with the U.S. Marshal Service, and Dr. Victor M. Manjarrez, Jr., a retired Chief Patrol Agent who served in both Tucson and El Paso Sectors.
That is all pretty great to read. We need more reported features on the border that go beyond mere punditry and heated rhetoric. (See Vox’s Border series or docs like Home+Away and 3 Minute Hug). Which is what makes the first trailer for Border Live feel all the more puzzling. Aiming for a thrilleresque aesthetic and giving us blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpses of, among other things, night cam raids, seized drugs, sniffer dogs, aerial views of the border, daytime arrests, and, of course, a US flag, the trailer amps up the tension about this most contested of regions. There’s little, in fact, that points to Border Live being any kind of news show at all; if you’d told us this was all made up of Sicario B-roll we might have been inclined to believe you. Add in needlessly cheeky tag lines like “This is the fine line that divides a country. What side are you on?” and the show’s marketing starts to look much more sensationalized than the synopsis Discovery is touting. Here’s hoping the show itself delivers more nuanced takes on the border than what this trailer suggests.
Border Live premieres December 5, 2018, at 9 p.m. on Discovery.