Kari Byron is out to prove that even in the divided world of today, we all still have more in common than not. The MythBusters alum's new jet-setting series, Crash Test World, premieres Friday, Jan. 8 on the Science Channel, and ahead of its debut, Byron sat down with PopCulture.com to share just how eating crickets and skateboarding tie into her overall mission of fostering "empathy and compassion."
Because Crash Test World was filmed in a pre-COVID world, the White Rabbit Project star was able to touch down all over the globe, from big cities like Berlin and New York to remote areas like the Qatari Desert to "crash test" each location — checking out the art, music, sports, activities and cultures that make it special while tracking down some of the innovators looking to solve problems globally and locally.
Byron told PopCulture that the idea first arose to film a series focusing on global citizenry, where she would travel looking for "the hope, the inspiration, the innovators, and the change makers" — the people asking big questions and finding solutions. "I just crashed us into it. I dive deep. I find the people that interest me the most, and I ask all the questions," Byron said of the show's name.
Drawing inspiration from the late Anthony Bourdain, Byron hopes to make a human connection through culture, food and play. "I really liked the idea that we're more alike than different," she shared. "We all want to play, have our family safe. We love. We eat. So I want a kid in Kansas to know that she's just like a little girl in Tokyo, who's just like a little kid in Delhi. I really liked the idea of us all being in it together."
In the first season, the Crash Test Girl author meets with everyone from a photojournalist in Jerusalem who set up a skate park outside the Old City to foster intercultural play to restaurant owners in Oakland making delicious cricket tacos as part of the global food sustainability effort. Her experience with a refugee family living in Berlin was particularly impactful as Byron spent time with their daughter — the same age as her own. "It brought tears to my eyes, because all of a sudden I was in their shoes," Byron recalled. "And that's what I'm hoping that this show does is create empathy and a connection."
In a second season of the new Science Channel series, Byron is looking to expand into a whole Crash Test universe, hoping to investigate space commerce and travel as well as some more adventures on terra firma, in places like Pakistan and Australia.0comments
"I just don't think that I will ever run out of looking for people who are innovators," she told PopCulture. "There's just so many people doing good in the world that I have a long, long list that I need to get through." She quipped, "I mean, I did MythBusters on myths for almost two decades. I think that I can do this for at least another three or four."
Crash Test World premieres with two back-to-back episodes Friday, Jan. 8 at 12 p.m. ET and 12:30 p.m. ET on Science Channel. Crash Test World was produced by Andrew Zimmern's Intuitive Content and created, and executive produced by Jenny Buccos, the founder of ProjectExplorer ProjectExplorer. Escapade Media is the global distributor.