American Woman

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
American Woman TV Poster Image
'70s-set feminist dramedy is undermined by stereotypes.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Messages of independence and self-love are buried under clunky storytelling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though intended to be positive role models, most female roles are stereotypes that undermine the show's premise. 

Violence

The main character makes a lot of violent threats and at one point brandishes a knife at her husband, who has been manhandling her.

Sex

There are sex scenes in many episodes, and some nudity filmed from behind.

Language

Profanity is used throughout: "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole."

Consumerism

Bonnie works at defunct department store, The May Company, and references are made to fashion and products of the 70s. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking is abundant, and characters are often seen inebriated. Smoking is constant. Marijuana, cocaine, and pharmaceuticals are all discussed and used.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that American Woman is the story of a woman who leaves her wealthy husband after she discovers him cheating. Set in the mid-1970's, the show follows main character Bonnie and her friends as they each attempt to break free from the men in their life and discover their own independence. Most episodes tend to contain sex scenes, along with some mild nudity. There's a lot of profanity, including "s--t" and "f--k," and Bonnie makes frequent threats to others. Smoking, alcohol and drug use are rampant, and characters often deal with their problems via alcohol and drugs. Though the show claims to be set during "the second wave of feminism," it deals mostly in clichés and stereotypes, making this a less-than-great choice for families looking for strong female role models.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJlanpon August 3, 2018

Real issues

Issues that affect American lives.

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What's the story?

In 1975, former child actress and AMERICAN WOMAN Bonnie Nolan (Alicia Silverstone) discovers that her husband, a wealthy real-estate salesman, is cheating on her, so she decides to leave him. In order to keep her giant house and raise her two daughters as a single mother, Bonnie must learn to become financially stable on her own. At the same time, her two best friends, Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels) are also testing the limits of their own independence: Kathleen is using her own money to fund her secretly homosexual boyfriend's casting company, while Diana fights to climb the corporate ladder at a male-run bank.

Is it any good?

Unfortunately, this potentially fun story is a patchwork of cliches, and -- beyond the over-the-top and distracting costumes that place the show in 1975 -- the writing doesn't really attempt to put a new spin on them. The characters, though they're supposed to be emblematic of the second wave of feminism, are drawn from broad stereotypes. They're timid, spiteful, easily manipulated, classist, and use alcohol to avoid their problems, which works for other, more confident shows (Desperate Housewives, anyone?) but here completely contradicts and undermines American Woman's promise of a story about women discovering their independence.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the lives of women are portrayed in this period piece. What's different for women now? Do they have more choices? 

  • Why do you think they chose to set American Woman in the 1970s? What does the show say about that time in American history? How would life be different for its characters in the present day? What can we learn from this depiction of the past?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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