This is an examination of various aspects of art - depiction of human form, origins of painting, storytelling, art of persuasion, depictions of death - and connecting their origins to today. Interesting stuff. It is visually stunning, and presented in a dramatic way that is entertaining.
One of the most interesting parts was the section on Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey, where huge engraved pillars were erected 12,000 years ago. This was the same time and place where wheat was first cultivated, and people moved from hunting/gathering to farming. The theory presented was that the agricultural endeavor was begun in order to feed the thousands involved in building and enjoying these decorated pillars. This differs from the usual assumption that people went where the food was and then culture developed. Intriguing.
My issue with this series is the unquestioning acceptance of brain theories in some of their analyses. People in unrelated cultures made figurines of the female form with rotund bellies and breasts, and minimized other features. Baby birds whose mothers have red stripes on them peck at sticks with red stripes painted on them. Therefore, a brain expert declares, it is hardwired in our brains to exaggerate certain characteristics. Where is the evidence that it has anything to do with the brain? And what does "hardwired in our brains" mean, exactly? It always amazes me when silly theories are accepted without question because they are expressed with an air of authority by an "expert". It is not surprising that unrelated people in harsh environments, where starvation and racial extinction were real concerns, would make a fetish of the female form looking well fed, pregnant and laden with milk. Nowadays, we are more concerned with obesity and overpopulation, so we find the gaunt form attractive. The tendency to exaggerate favored characteristics is a conscious aesthetic decision, no hardwiring needed.
In the part on death - comparing comforting and frightening images of death through the ages - it is said that people - even children - feel bad when someone dies because they're worried about their own death. That is an unwarranted generalization. I think most people feel bad because they miss the person who died, or worry about losing someone else. If children are concerned about their own death, I think it is because they are reminded of a previous death, as in the end of a previous lifetime. The spiritual aspect of these subjects is completely neglected in this series.
Nevertheless, it is worth watching for its unique approach to art history, and the relating of various periods and cultures. Just fast forward through the psychobabble.