A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Even when you work hard, you still have to fight intrinsic bias. Being aware of this makes it possible to fight back and change the way the world views women. Be ambitious and don't let anyone get in your way. People do judge a book by its cover.
Positive Role Models
The students who take part in debate are extremely mature and responsible.
Students of Indian, Black, Russian, and Vietnamese backgrounds all work to help teammates do their best at debate. Both male and female debaters are aware of bias against female debaters and debaters of color. Aggressive, powerful girls and women are judged to be shrill. Asian students are stereotyped as "robotic." Black debaters are stereotyped as "too aggressive." Female debaters are stereotyped as weaker. "Judges vote for who looks like a winner."
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
"Hell," "piss," and "bitch."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Girl Talk is an inspiring documentary highlighting the triumphs and travails of female high school debaters. In a White, male-dominated field, female debaters and debaters of color are forced to contend with and overcome unconscious bias among judges. The filmmakers follow students in an unusual debate program at a Boston high school, in which older, more experienced debaters coach the newer members of the team. Language includes "hell," "piss," and "bitch." Note that several other movies share the same title. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Girl Talk does a great job of targeting the kind of prejudice girls and people of color face in debate, as well as in real life. Well-trained female debaters know going in that they are handicapped by the bias judges unknowingly bring to the arena, and much time is spent discussing strategies to combat the unspoken hurdles everyone who isn't a White male faces in debate competitions. The film showcases the way that the students involved become good and informed citizens as they discuss both sides of many polarizing social and political issues, including climate change, subjects that might not otherwise interest high school students.
Images of accomplished female former high school debaters accompany the final credits: Oprah Winfrey, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Toni Morrison, Condoleeza Rice, Stacey Abrams, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Nancy Pelosi. The film doesn't weigh in on whether those who join debate teams already have skills, intelligence, and personality traits that will propel them to great accomplishment or if the debating skills they learned got them there, but it's an interesting question. This is the last film of director Lucia Small, who died in 2022.
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.