A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Show Me a Hero is a miniseries that deals with weighty adult issues such as racism, class, and poverty in a serious and sobering way that reflects the series' true-story origins. Characters regularly use unbleeped language such as "f--k" and "s--t" and get into spirited arguments that spark violent protests. You'll also see light sexual tension and kissing, along with social drinking and cigarette smoking.
What's the story?
Based on journalist Lisa Belkin's nonfiction book of the same name, SHOW ME A HERO explores the fallout of a federal court order to build low-income housing in predominantly white areas of Yonkers, New York, in the late 1980s. At the center of the story is Nick Wasicsko (Oscar Isaac), an ambitious councilman on the rise who becomes the city's youngest mayor and ultimately wrestles with doing the right thing versus doing what it takes to keep his job.
Is it any good?
With strong acting and effective writing, Show Me a Hero is well-made and watchable, a period piece that's timelier than you'd expect. But the fact that it centers on such a specific time and place -- 1980s Yonkers, New York -- and lacks the splash of a name-brand "star" makes it a tough sell for the average viewer who's drawn to more obvious excitement. And that's just speaking for the adults; older teens are even less likely to take interest, though they'd certainly learn something about our country's persistent struggle with class and race.
So why should you watch a six-part miniseries about a little-known historical event that, on the surface, doesn't sound all that interesting? For one thing, it bears the stamp of David Simon (The Wire) and Paul Haggis (Crash), who know a little something about building on-screen tension. For another, it boasts award-worthy performances from a nearly unrecognizable Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Catherine Keener that make you care more about the politics of urban housing than you ever thought possible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Show Me a Hero's title and its deeper meaning as it pertains to the story. Who are the show's "heroes" and "villains" -- and do such absolutes really exist?
What are the qualities of a good leader, and what are the responsibilities of a good citizen? When is it acceptable to challenge a law as opposed to obeying it?
What's the difference between duty and personal conviction? Could you follow through with something you didn't believe in?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.