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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Historical and biographical information about some of America's most influential leaders and influences. Footage includes photographs, newspaper clippings, historical speeches, radio clips, film clips and archival information.
Even if you are disadvantaged, you can succeed if you work hard. Transcending limitations is possible. Being a visionary takes hard work, patience, education, and grit. Physical adversity can deepen a person, causing him or her to be more patient and compassionate. Patience, determination, fortitude are all qualities of great leaders. Staying calm amid great chaos is a source of strength. Helping others to succeed and overcome their challenges is a mark of a great leader.
Positive Role Models
Short biographical documentaries highlight what made these American leaders great. For example, Babe Ruth's success is in part to do with his enjoyment of the moment and his passion for people; FDR's ability to overcome his disability gave him the strength and poise to succeed in war; Eleanor Roosevelt used her status as first lady to help many people in ways that no other woman had done.
Violence & Scariness
Images of dead soliders strewn across battlefields are highlighted in some episodes.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the icons are smokers -- Mark Twain is shown with his ubiquitous cigar, Babe Ruth smokes a pipe. Alcohol is consumed at speakeasies; a baseball team is sponsored by a beer baron.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Icons is a biographical documentary series that highlights a handful of American legends and leaders. George Washington, Abe Lincoln, FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and Thomas Edison are featured -- all are White and most are male.The episodes are under 30 minutes, so they give brief accounts of certain facets of each leader's life. Some smoking, drinking, and kissing is shown. An icon is described as "fun loving" as he is shown going to bars while flanked by women. In other episodes, images of dead soldiers populate battlefields.
Is It Any Good?
Lacking in diversity and depth, this documentary series looks at the motivation behind a handful of American historical figures. American Icons isn't a Ken Burns series, nor does it try to be. The short biopics look at what made these icons great, and it explores that technique. Mark Twain knew how to spin a good sound bite, for example. FDR used his patience and perseverance to strategically move the public. Babe Ruth shined like the sun when he was given attention.
Parents can whet their kids' appetite by exploring these fast-paced documentaries about influential people. But the absence of diversity among the icons, and the singular focus about their rise to power, causes this series to fall short of the storytelling potential inherent in the subject matter.
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.