Parents' Guide to

The Women of Brewster Place

By Kari Croop, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Classic miniseries tackles weighty women's issues.

Movie NR 2011 182 minutes
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Although this weighty but compelling drama takes most of its plot from novelist Gloria Naylor's source material, there were some significant changes made for the sake of TV audiences. Namely, the way black men were portrayed onscreen, considering the complete lack of positive male role models in the book. Still, several critics at the time took the miniseries to task for its heavy use of negative black stereotypes -- for both male and female characters.

Viewed through a modern lens, it's easy to see what the critics weren't crazy about. But Brewster Place was still a ratings success and brought together some of the most celebrated and popular black actors of the period, including Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Moses Gunn, Lynn Whitfield, Mary Alice, and Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show). And of course Oprah Winfrey, who not only starred but also produced the project through her then-fledgling Harpo Studios production company. It even spawned a short-lived series spinoff, Brewster Place, but it was canceled after just four episodes.

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