A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Dylan Farrow has told the story of her alleged molestation in print as an adult and in one TV interview but never at this length. She says at one point that she is tired of feeling like Allen matters more than she does. Telling her own painful story, even decades after the alleged abuse, is admirable.
Positive Role Models
Much depends on the viewer's preconceptions of Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, and their families. Dylan is aware of the risks of exposing her experiences; her courage is admirable. It is noticeable that though many of Farrow's children are from Asia, every person interviewed in Farrow's "camp" in the first two episodes is white; Dylan's Asian siblings don't appear on-screen (Daisy agreed to an audio interview).
Violence & Scariness
The sexual violence that Dylan Farrow alleges and describes is disturbing and potentially triggering. She talks about feeling trapped and fearing that Allen would be violent with her. Viewers see video of 7-year-old Dylan describing that her father touched her "private parts." She remembers a dinner when she insisted on calling Allen "Woody" instead of "Daddy" and "he grabs me by the back of my neck, and shoves my face down into my plate of hot spaghetti. And that was sort of when I realized that that's what happens if I say no."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The subject of the series, sexual molestation, is well known but the details that are alleged in the series are still shocking and specific. In the first episode Farrow's sister recalls seeing Woody Allen put sunscreen on 5-year-old Dylan: "His hand went down between her buttocks and kind of lingered there suggestively." Mia recalls that Allen slapped Dylan's hand away: "And I said, 'Why did you do that?' And he said, 'She grabbed my penis." Farrow describes the Polaroid images of her daughter Soon-yi that she finds at Allen's apartment: "They were...Hustler pictures or something, really raunchy pictures." In later episodes viewers will see videos that Farrow took of Dylan describing her experiences with Allen repeatedly. Episode two delves into Allen's pattern of pairing himself and his onscreen surrogates with much younger women, even teens, and a woman who says she started dating him at 16 (when he was decades older) is interviewed.
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Though there's no swearing, the language here is disturbing as, participants describe Allen's behavior with Dylan, how she felt in his presence, and what others observed.
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Products & Purchases
This family has a lavish lifestyle -- they flew private jets to luxurious destinations around the world. The lived in a prime Manhattan location then on a large property in Connecticut. Dylan recalls growing up "in a place filled with books, and toys, and everything I could possibly want."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In shots from the '60s and '70s we see people smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Allen v. Farrow focuses on actor-director Woody Allen's alleged sexual abuse of his and actor Mia Farrow's seven-year-old daughter Dylan in 1992. At that point, the couple had split because Farrow discovered that Allen was having an affair with her (barely) adult daughter Soon-Yi. Dylan and Mia are interviewed extensively about their recollections of that time, as are many members of the family and others in their circle. Their descriptions can be graphic. The documentarians also present videos (mostly shot by Mia) from her children's childhood; most of these have never been shown publicly, particularly the videos in which young Dylan describes her father's abuse. The descriptions of Dylan's alleged abuse are particularly difficult to watch and hear, as are the memories of Allen and Soon-Yi's affair.
Is It Any Good?
Almost 30 years after the events of this docuseries, they hit differently -- we see now through a parent's eyes and we want to protect young Dylan from the trauma that has affected her entire life. At the time, as we're shown, Woody Allen was a quirky, beloved filmmaker who embodied uptown New York and appeared to play out his neuroses on screen. Suddenly, we were confronted with another possibility that completely reframed him: He was a predator who seduced his life partner's child and sexually abused his 7-year-old daughter. The allegations were both shocking and fascinating; in the pre-internet era the allegations and the extended custody battle played out in nightly entertainment shows and in the tabloids. Then, the story seemed to be over. But the story wasn't over for the Farrow family. As an adult, Dylan says, "What I was really feeling was that I had let down the little girl that I was before when I couldn't speak about it. I wish that I had been stronger, that I hadn't crumpled so much under the pressure. I need to in a way prove to myself that I can face it, which is probably why I feel so strongly about coming forward now."
The documentarians here have seemingly unfettered access to the Farrow family, including Dylan, older brother Fletcher Previn, journalist Ronan, and reluctant Mia, as well as her sister and friends who were in their circle in the '90s. Mia's large, warm Connecticut home is the back drop for many of her home videos, and it's the site of Dylan's alleged abuse. The viewers feel what it was like to be part of this family, and how it the trauma of the early '90s changed it irreparably. Allen and wife Soon-Yi didn't participate in this series (they were asked for their input, the documentarians say), so this is really Dylan's story. It's worth your time to listen to it.
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.