A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film is an indictment of television and other media. The industry and those who control it are seen as greedy, power-hungry, and arrogant. "We'll tell you everything you want to hear and none of it is true." The integrity of television news is challenged in scene after scene, and the film traces the descent of the TV news departments into the bowels of the entertainment divisions. In a larger sense, corporate corruption and self-interest threaten to undermine the individual, our democracy, and all positive values. It's a pessimistic message and, in this film, no one escapes its inevitable conclusion.
Positive Role Models
There are no heroes here: no one to admire; no one is able to counter the destructive forces at play. Male characters are either weak, off-balance, or corruptible. The female lead represents the very worst of what is usually seen as "masculine" behavior, made even more objectionable as she uses her "femininity" to get what she wants. The one featured African-American woman, seen first as a political maverick with good intentions, becomes shrill, racist, and greedy. Any character with even a little integrity (and no one has an abundance of it) is defeated.
Violence & Scariness
A character is shot in cold blood. A leading character is forcibly removed from the set of a television news show. This same character threatens to blow his brains out on camera.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters talk about sex and adultery in numerous scenes, but actual sexual activity is limited to some passionate kissing and one sequence, played as satire, in which two leads undress (with a brief flash of female breasts) and engage in a semblance of foreplay and intercourse. Throughout the scene, the female's partner and the sex act itself are decidedly secondary as she engages in a non-stop monologue about her work in the television business.
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Pervasive swearing and obscenities throughout: all forms of "f--k," "s—t," "kiss your ass," "whorehouse," "c--ksmanship," "piss," "Goddamn," and more. There are references to "dykes," and an African-American character describes herself using the "N" word.
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Products & Purchases
Sheraton, Canada Dry, Life cereal. ABC, CBS, and NBC are discussed and visually represented, but with definite disdain.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Set in 1976, many characters smoke. Alcoholic beverages are consumed in social settings: restaurants, bars, dinner table, etc. The opening scene shows two best friends who are drinking together and getting very drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film, made in 1976, is for adults and mature teens only. There is considerable profanity throughout: "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word," "whore," "goddamn," "piss," "dykes," and more. Characters discuss and engage in adultery. Actual sexual activity includes kissing and one scene in which characters undress (a brief flash of female breasts is included) and have sexual intercourse while the woman talks non-stop. Alcohol is consumed on numerous social occasions and two men get very drunk in the film's opening scene. Some smoking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A scathing multiple Oscar nominee, NETWORK is often said to be the movie that predicted the advent of "trash TV." Though marketed as satire, it was not a belly-laugh parody like Scary Movie, but rather a stern, grownup broadside that set out to shock and outrage. In fact, over the years a few of its details are hardly farfetched anymore; not in the 21st-century tubescape of voyeuristic Reality shows, sleazy music-video channels, news sensationalism, and circus-freak daytime talk. Kids who come home from school to The Jerry Springer Show might wonder what the fuss is all about.
But Network bristles with righteous anger, featuring especially caustic dialogue by legendary writer Paddy Chayefsky, who was one of the great script authors of early TV drama. By the mid-1970s he didn't like what he was seeing, and the narrative takes place in a post-Watergate atmosphere of darkest cynicism, homegrown terrorism, Third World atrocities, oil shortages, inflation, recession, amorality, and all-around bad news. Just about every character, even minor ones, gets to do angry oratory that could blister the wallpaper. This movie begs the question three decades later: Has TV gotten better or worse? Network seems especially on-target about the idea of huge, anything-for-money corporations running the media (and everything else), a situation that's only intensified since the 1970s.
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.