A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Take chances to explore who you might want to be. Encourages standing up to abusive partners. Emphasizes value of family.
Positive Role Models
Main character Joey is nice, funny, and open to difference and eventually stands up for herself. But she spends the majority of the film chasing after Victor and obeying his every demand. He shames her for being a virgin, not having ever smoked marijuana, and for dressing and appearing the way she does, like when he says, "We are going to change every single thing about the way you look" and each time he aggressively tells her to reapply her lipstick. Limited representation in terms of race as everyone is white except for Antonio. Representation of bisexuality with Victor seducing both Joey and Antonio.
Violence & Scariness
Some controlling and toxic behavior from a boyfriend and a few nonconsensual kisses. Girl gets jumped in an alley and hair pulled. A teen brandishes a knife and threatens some kids. Other minor threats of violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of romantic kissing. At expense of main character, a few "virgin" jokes that could be viewed as pressure to have sex. Some nonconsensual kisses. Brief moment of an old man's naked buttocks. Teens in underwear caught on top of one another. Some non-graphic discussions of having sex.
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Some language: "bulls--t," "bitch," "ass," "damn," and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Joey smokes marijuana and drinks alcohol a few times without consequences. Victor pressures Joey into smoking marijuana for the first time. Joey gets visibly drunk at a party. She stays out late many nights and comes home in the morning to worried grandparents. Victor smokes tobacco out of a pipe. Jokes about drugs: "Who wants to do drugs? Pot, acid, a little cocaine, maybe?" and "Ha! Smoking a little grass hardly makes you a drug addict."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Summer as a Goth is a coming-of-age young adult drama about a girl who tries the goth lifestyle to impress a boy. Having to spend the summer with her grandparents, lead character Joey becomes infatuated with the boy next door, Victor. He also seems to be intrigued, but starts to reveal controlling and manipulative behavior. It's standard girl-meets boy-loses boy-realizes-never-needed-boy-plot tweaked by the bisexuality of the boy, as Victor is discovered to have also seduced Antonio, who later strikes up a friendship with Joey. Joey and Victor drink and smoke marijuana a handful of times and without consequence except for some openly worried grandparents. Joey gets very drunk at a party. Many romantic kissing scenes, some nonconsensual kisses, and a couple in bed and in underwear. Joey almost gets assaulted, but Antonio saves her by brandishing a knife. Some language ("bitch," "bulls--t," "ass," "hell," etc.) and some jokes about drugs, drinking, and virginity. In terms of diversity, the film features all white actors except for Antonio, played by Eduardo Reyes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Perfectly average for its kind, this light teen dramedy just about stays together. In My Summer as a Goth, main character Joey is sincere, funny, decent, and kind. Shershow shows a deft desperation in Joey that's far and beyond the most nuanced aspect of the entire film. She yearns for something, a connection, love, to maybe replace the connection and love she had with her father before he died. It doesn't matter what kind of love or connection, just as long as it's genuine and true. She thinks she finds these in Victor, but he's quickly revealed to be an abusive and selfish manipulator. The problem, though, is that Joey is the last to know and doesn't stand up for herself because of Victor's awful behavior, like how he constantly shames her for how she looks, often ditches her without explanation, or pressures her into engaging in dangerous activities. Joey doesn't stand up for herself after these signals and red flags, after warnings from her grandparents, but only after she sees Victor in bed with another woman.
Outside of Shershow's wonderfully emotive performance, Joey is too often written as naturally agreeable and passive: always blindly following Victor's commands, constantly chasing after him asking people where he is, and generally too willing to go along with risky decisions. The writers also give the honor of enacting Victor's comeuppance to Joey's mother, who appears very briefly, over Joey, which robs her and the audience of any greater sense of victory over the abusive and toxic Victor. The film also seems to condone underage drinking and drug use (marijuana only) because there never are any consequences for these behaviors. Further, it feels like the film skates over Victor's couple of nonconsensual kisses, moments of witnessed abuse, and Victor's general horribleness because all Joey does is keep trying (until she sees him with another woman) and her goth friends do and say nothing to help or to Victor to maybe try to let him know that it's not nice or ethical to "toy" with an innocent young woman. In the end, My Summer as a Goth doesn't really depict goth culture warmly.
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.