A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There's discussion of civil rights history, film history, and religion.
The overriding theme is that we are more alike than different.
Positive Role Models
The show features some prominent civil rights leaders, community activists, and people working for justice.
Violence & Scariness
Descriptions and some footage of police brutality, shootings, and other violence.
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Some coarse language and racial slurs, including the N-word.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know American Race is a documentary series about race relations in America. It has the potential to disturb sensitive viewers, with frank and graphic descriptions (and in some cases, video footage) of police brutality and other violence. During a discussion of the history of minority representation in the media, images are shown of actors in blackface and Klan hoods. The show features several heated and emotional exchanges -- including some that the host himself says were hard to sit and listen to -- but these exchanges are intended to serve a larger purpose. One running theme is that people fear the unknown, and that to stop the spread of fear and hate, we need to get out there and meet our neighbors instead of putting stock in stereotypes. Due to the complexity of some of the issues discussed, and some of the more disturbing and violent references, the show is probably best suited for older kids.
Is It Any Good?
The show has good intentions, but Barkley isn't a particularly savvy host -- rarely does he ask the probing questions that would take this show's conversations about race beyond the surface level. He's long been a polarizing media figure, who has gone on record defending the George Zimmerman verdict and defending the NYC police officers who put Eric Garner in an illegal chokehold. As such, he's an odd choice to be mediating these sorts of supposedly neutral discussions -- a fact which more than one participant calls him out on. His desire to hear "both sides of the story" can seem overly indulgent, such as when he talks with a casting director who insists that when she casts actors in stereotypical roles (a Mexican playing a criminal, a Muslim as a terrorist) that "it's not racism, it's just what's required." This assertion goes totally unchecked as he assures her that she's "just doing her job" -- though in the same episode, he agrees with rapper/actor Ice Cube that it's important for minorities to see positive depictions of themselves in the media. Though Barkley himself may be out of his depth as a host, he does speak with some inspiring and knowledgeable activists, business owners, entertainers, and professors who bring American Race more substance.
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.