A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Highly educational content, though sometimes confusing in its delivery. Do e-cigarettes help people quit smoking, as they have been marketed to do? Or are they poison delivery systems? Lots of graphs, facts, and interviews, but the conclusions can be confusing. This complex issue doesn't have a simple answer, but taking the time to figure out implications of the long-term health effects of vaping was not a priority for Juul.
Stand up for what's right. Work for the greater good. Don't be reckless. Be an individual. Look out for your health. Protest can create change. Persevere to get to the truth of a matter. Have integrity in all that you do.
Positive Role Models
Some of the teens in this show who are vape addicts-turned-activists speak out against the vaping industry, but they're not shown to be activists until the last episode. Some adults argue that kids should be protected from predatory companies. Other adults say that parents are responsible for everything their kids do, and that companies should be allowed to do whatever they want.
It's said in this show that vaping was largely seen as a White kids' issue, but some Black and Latino teens are shown vaping too. Adults interviewed here are largely White; some are Black, Latino, South Asian, and mixed-race people.
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Violence & Scariness
Medical images include teens fighting for their lives in hospitals because of lung damage. Tubes are shown fastened into chest cavities. Teens are shown vaping until they pass out, which is perilous.
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"F--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," and variants of these words.
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Products & Purchases
Products -- especially smoking related -- are referenced frequently: Juul, Nicorette, American Spirits, Winston, Marlboro, Ploom, Pax, Newport, Camels, Phillip Morris, Altria, Japan Tobacco International. Tech companies are highlighted: Apple, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Uber, Slack, Airbnb, WhatsApp, DoorDash. Media includes: Wired, Vice, The Today Show, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekend, Broad City. Beyonce, Rhianna, David Chapelle, Nike, Vans.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Yes, there's smoking and vaping that's seductive and alluring -- lots of it. Also, there are confusing messages about whether vaping is indeed harmful.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul is a docuseries about vaping that's ultimately on the fence as to whether vaping is harmful to health. Lots of seductive, fun, alluring images of people vaping and touting the great qualities of vaping: it's discreet, it tastes good, it keeps people from smoking tobacco. Opposing views include doctors who have seen lung failure in teens who vape, parents who find vape marketing to kids morally reprehensible, members of government and other organizations who see vaping as an epidemic. Founders of Juul admit to buying into the Silicon Valley ethos of "move fast and break things," rather than treating vape products as a potentially dangerous poison-delivery systems. Parents will want to check this one out first to see if it's appropriate for their teens because of the questions that are left unanswered. Addiction is explored as a theme alongside sexy, cool marketing. Character strengths include integrity and perseverance.
Is It Any Good?
More seductive than scary, this documentary illustrates the allure of vaping while -- sometimes -- wagging a finger. It would be a feat if people who've quit vaping aren't tempted by the many minutes of French inhaling by beautiful teens in Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul. The ratio of glamorous hits off a Juul to hospital bed horrors errs on the glossy lips blowing huge puffs of mango-scented mist.
This is a fascinating docuseries that asks hard questions of the tech industry's "go fast" model. Journalists give compelling accounts of the rise and fall of a company that sought to stick a finger in the eye of big tobacco, but was ultimately big tobacco's pawn. Parents, be warned that the questions about vaping's health hazards don't get answered in a resoundingly clear manner in this series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.