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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this educational series offers visually graphic reenactments of American historical events. People are shown being shot, blown up, stabbed with bayonets, etc. (bloody wounds and dead corpses visible). There are also brief discussions about prostitution, cannibalism, slavery, Native American displacement, disease, starvation, and other strong topics. All these themes are offered within a historical context, but may be a little disturbing to younger and/or sensitive viewers.
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What's the story?
AMERICA: THE STORY OF US is a six-part documentary that offers a detailed look at some of the prominent political, economic, and social figures and events that have molded America throughout the past 400 years. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, it uses dramatic reenactments and special effects to illustrate each significant period in America’s history. It also looks at the country’s enthusiasm for exploration and discovery out on the frontier, both out West and in space. The technological innovations that made all these things possible are also discussed. Insight from notable politicians like Rudolf Giuliani, military figures like Colin Powell, business people like Donald Trump, and Hollywood actors like Michael Douglas help explain the significance and consequences of these events, both major and minor, on the overall impact it has had on the formation and evolution of America.
Is it any good?
The docuseries attempts to make itself both informative and entertaining by using creative computer graphics and interviews with notable political, educational, and Hollywood figures to talk about American history. While it succeeds on most fronts, there are times when the special effects seem to make parts of the overall narrative drag on more than it should. Sometimes the presentation of multiple events seems a little scattered, too.
Kids may not be clamoring to see it, but history buffs and educators will most certainly appreciate what the series has to offer. President Obama’s introduction to the series also makes it pretty exciting. Overall, it is an inspired look at what makes the United States the country that it is today.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about American history. What are some of the key events in U.S. history that made America the country that it is today? Are all of these things good things? Are there things that you wish had happened differently? Why? Do you think American history would be told differently if it were told from a specifically female, African-American, or Native American point of view?
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