The fourth season of "Our America with Lisa Ling" premieres on OWN on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The series explores segments of society that are considered outside of the mainstream. Past seasons have featured people as diverse as swingers, nuns, transgenders, and pageant kids. This season will include bondage, seniors, and families of killers. Each episode opens viewers' eyes to the world around them and what might be happening right next door.
At a recent press event, Lisa Ling stated that the point of this show is "seeing how different people react to different kinds of situations. And for us, as viewers, to take it in and get a sense of people's lives without judging." Here's a sneak peak of the some of the new episodes.
"50 Shades of Kink": Jan. 22
Although Ling admittedly shied away from the topic of bondage for fear of coming across as sensationalism, it was difficult to ignore this part of society after the runaway success of "Fifty Shades of Grey." She stated, "Sex topics have always been hard for me to do because when you work as a journalist and you try to build up credibility, you don't want to go to the lowest common denominator. But what I'm proud of is that our show has not done that. We acknowledge the fact that these are legitimate alternative lifestyles and that lots of people are living them."
She continued, "While we may have the preconceived ideas about what these lifestyles are like, the people living them do so for certain reasons, and we just want to give them the opportunity to share their reasons why." Ling's exploration uncovers that the people who are into kink are mutually consenting adults who plan out every step before engaging in any acts to ensure complete security and openness for the couple.
It is important to Ling that her viewers come to the table with an open mind. She enjoyed "giving our audience the opportunity to get to know people who practice BDSM and find that they are normal people just like you. They could work in your office. They could live next door to you… Our whole purpose is to try and allow people to watch our shows without judgment so that they might have a better understanding of how people live."
"Generation XXL": Jan. 29
Ling and her crew also explore another topic exploding across the country -- childhood obesity. However, unlike a lot of shows that delve into the kids' lives and where they went wrong, Ling takes a look at the parents and the culture that they live in. She was astonished at what she found: "In some parts of the country, people don't have the same access, not just to healthy food, but about information about food. They truly just don't have an awareness about what is healthy and what's not."
"Secret Lives of Seniors": Feb. 5
Since the series began Ling has wanted to do a show about the elderly but could never get the show green lit because the over-75 set is not in the OWN demographic. But all that finally changed. Ling opened up about why she wanted to do this show: "The reality is we will all be seniors one day, and we will all have to deal with aging parents. It's inevitable. It is so relatable to every single one of us."
This episode is near and dear to Ling because it features her own dad, Doug, who is having memory issues but is being stubborn about letting go and letting them take care of him. Ling said, "We decided to explore the lives of different seniors and how they are dealing with aging. And it's been so interesting to see how one's mental state affects one's body and one's outlook on life."
Another episode deals with families of killers. She was in one's home the day of Newtown shootings and included the father's reaction to the events as they unfolded. And she also explores the lives of polyamorists: people who have loving, committed relationship with more than one individual.
Tune into "Our America with Lisa Ling" when it premieres on Tuesday, 1/22 at 10 PM EST on OWN.
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