Parents' Guide to

American Dreams

By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Evocative retrospective drama follows changes of the '60s.

TV NBC Drama 2003
American Dreams Poster Image

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This engrossing series was deceivingly short-lived, packing its mere three seasons with a lot of fantastic representations of the struggles and triumphs of average people during this turning point in American history. It excels at showing the human fallout of events such as the civil rights movement, race riots, and the Vietnam War from different points of view, often split down lines of gender, race, class, or generation. Each character evolves from the show's start to its end, and not every story has a happy ending. In other words, it makes a concerted effort to stay pretty true to real life, inasmuch as a fictional show possibly can.

American Dreams' most recognizable sights and sounds take place in the American Bandstand studio, where modern singers replicate stage performances, and some clever filming tricks make you feel as if you're actually watching Dick Clark at the helm. Set to a great soundtrack of the rock-'n'-roll era, this series evokes the emotions and uncertainties of the time, even as it underscores the value of family relationships and an open discourse within the home. The ride is an emotional one, given the implications of the issues at hand and the real-life struggles of those whose stories the characters recreate, but knowing the general outcome ahead of time should help tweens process the often tense content.

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