American Experience

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
American Experience TV Poster Image
History comes alive in excellent docuseries.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series' goal is to provide a positive educational experience about various aspects of American history. It doesn't aim to teach values, but rather to simply document the values of others and inspire empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Brings attention to people who are normally not given recognition for their pioneering efforts, including women and racial/ethnic minorities.


While the subject matter may deal with violent events, such as wars, no real/active violence is shown.


Some episodes may discuss issues of a sexual nature. These discussions are in context and aren't salacious in nature.


Occasional mild language: "damn," "bitch," etc. This language is often used when quoting someone.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products are sometimes visible (as part of the documentation of events) in some episodes. Addiction and drug/alcohol related deaths are sometimes discussed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that American Experience is a PBS documentary series that's committed to educating the public about events in American history. To that end, episodes are commonly used as supplemental teaching tools in schools and other educational settings. Parents should also know that some installments deal with mature subject matter and include strong language and graphic descriptions of events and behavior, making the show better suited to older tweens and teens than young children.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byxxxrodrigoxxx July 9, 2019

INCREDIBLE show - some of the best documentary filmmaking I've ever seen

Through the use of incredible rare footage, photographs and interviews with experts, descendants, and sometimes even people who were really there, American Expe... Continue reading
Adult Written byDave P. July 3, 2020

Always Excellent

“American Experience” episodes from PBS are always extremely well done and very educational. Watch any of them and you will come away smarter. Obviously many of... Continue reading

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What's the story?

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE -- a historical documentary series committed to telling stories about people and events that have changed the nation -- has the distinction of being television's longest-running and most-watched history program. The series examines a variety of subjects and disciplines, from technological developments and scientific breakthroughs to great American politicians and artists and their achievements. Each installment considers various perspectives on events that have had national implications, including in-vitro fertilization, yellow fever, Civil Rights, the Gold Rush, the private and public challenges of past leaders, and the progress of various forms of art and popular culture. While the topics of the individual documentaries vary, they share many thematic similarities. Each installment looks at the political, social, economic, and, often, ethical implications of the groundbreaking achievements of Americans who embraced unconventional ways of thinking.

Is it any good?

The series doesn't shy away from the flip side of these pioneering successes, making sure to cover the real costs associated with challenging preconceived notions of "how things should be." Many of the profiled innovators faced often-overwhelming difficulties as their work went from being socially resisted and politically opposed to becoming part of the tapestry of American daily life. A winner of every major broadcast award, American Experience continues the tradition of public broadcasting by working to increase public understanding of American history. To help fulfill that goal, the show often profiles innovators --including women and racial and ethnic minorities -- whose work paved the way for others who ended up getting sole credit for landmark contributions. But the series' most powerful message may be that a person's greatest contribution to America isn't actually changing it, but rather bravely taking the initiative to attempt to do so.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which historical figures highlighted on American Experience  they admire and why. What makes them admirable? What challenges did they face as pioneers in their field?

  • Families can also talk about important innovators who might be "left out" of history. Who gets credit for inventing new technology and creating other significant historical events? Why? How can we find out more about them?

  • What did you learn from the show that you didn't know before? Parents and kids interested in learning more about the topics covered by the show can plan a trip to the library or do some Internet research.

  • How does American Experience inspire empathy in its viewers? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Character Strengths

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