A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Has clear themes of communication, curiosity, courage, and compassion and empathy for others.
Positive Role Models
Jones uses both her communication skills and curiosity when investigating the lives of the people involved in the sex work industry. With each story, especially those that are particularly saddening, she demonstrates compassion and empathy for the person. She also shows courage when facing her fear of dealing with her sister's death. She uses these attributes to come to her own conclusions about sex work.
Written and directed by and starring a Black woman, the film is highly diverse. It centers women of color (including trans women of color) who have become veterans and survivors of the sex work industry. Their stories give a balanced and emotional look at a narrative that often prioritizes Whiteness and racial, cultural, social, and economic privilege.
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Violence & Scariness
Descriptions of violence, including sex-based violence and coercion. Discussions about sex trafficking. Characters deal with ongoing grief at the loss of a family member.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The film is all about sex work, so discussions about sex, sexuality, and sex work are inherent, but they're not overtly graphic. One scene comically shows Jones recovering after having sex, and another shows her having a Zoom doctor visit about what sounds like an STI. Women are shown pole dancing, and Jones visits a brothel.
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Language includes "f--k," "hell," "video hos," and a made-up swear word ("s--tnado"). Exclamatory use of "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
In & Out Burger is a prominent part of a scene, and the Star Wars series The Mandalorian is mentioned. Jones also mentions her own play frequently.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A few scenes with wine and smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sell/Buy/Date is a documentary about Sarah Jones' same-named one-woman show about sex work. The play became the center of online controversy after some sex workers saw Jones as exploiting them and their stories. So, for the film, Jones decided to interview a diverse range of people in the sex industry about their opinions and experiences. Her approach involves clear examples of communication, curiosity, courage, compassion, and empathy. Unsurprisingly, discussions about sex and sex work are a big part of the film (though nothing ever gets too graphic), as are discussions about sexual violence, coercion, and trafficking. Swear words ("f--k," "s--t," and more) are used, and there's some drinking and 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?
Sell/Buy/Date tries to do something different with the documentary format, and, for the most part, it works. The film is at its strongest when it allows those who are the most impacted by Jones' one-woman show to speak. The film provides a platform not only for Jones to save herself from getting canceled in real life, but also -- and more importantly -- for people who work in the sex industry to share their experiences. The film's most poignant stories come from women of color, including trans women of color, who've had to sell their bodies out of a necessity fueled by the racist and sexist systems that most developed nations depend on in their exploitation of natural resources. It's sobering to learn just how intertwined the plight and exploitation of women of color is with the capitalist systems that govern our lives.
Just as poignant is when Jones finally gets to the root of why she wanted to investigate the lives of sex workers in the first place: her sister's tragic experiences. It's expected that Jones would come to a conclusion at the end of the film, but her conclusion feels more like the thesis of what the film should have been about from the outset. The film she ended up making feels more like background research for a documentary that could have delved even further into the exploitation of women of color, which would allow viewers to digest more about how we as a society could possibly end this practice of harming women. But as it stands, Sell/Buy/Date is intriguing, educational, and eye-opening while also serving as a vehicle for Jones to showcase her tremendous talent for becoming completely realized characters.
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.