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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Away is a space-themed drama series following an international crew of astronauts on their mission to Mars. The show's protagonist is a strong, brave, intelligent female astronaut who leads a racially and gender-diverse crew. Strong language is not frequent but does include variations on "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "bitch" and "hell." A husband and wife engage in sexual intercourse, sans nudity, but plenty of bare skin is shown. A joke is made about a character's "d--k." Action scenes feature some fire and explosions -- including a character burned by a chemical -- but they aren't especially scary or violent. Alcohol is subtly referenced when an astronaut muses about missing wine back on Earth. The series includes a number of emotional scenes -- such as a mother leaving her family for an extended period of time, and a father suffering a stroke in front of his daughter -- that could be potentially frightening for younger and more sensitive viewers.
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What's the story?
AWAY follows astronaut Emma Green (Hilary Swank) as she leads an international crew on a risky, three-year mission to Mars. The astronauts face a number of trials and tribulations, both personally and technically, as they bravely attempt to complete their dangerous journey. The series spends as much time on Earth as it does in space, with much of the drama focused on Green's husband, Matt (Josh Charles), who commands the mission from the ground, and their daughter, Alexis (Talitha Eliana Bateman). In addition to coping with Emma's extended absence, the father and daughter face their own individual challenges at home.
Is it any good?
In addition to featuring stunning exterior shots of the stars and breathtaking peeks at foreign planet surfaces, this series packs plenty of thrills aboard the crew's Mars-bound craft. With its very polished production values, Away will immediately appeal to fans of space-faring films like Gravity and Apollo 13. Episodes rarely reach their conclusion without nudging you to the edge of your seat with a scene that finds the beleaguered astronauts barely averting danger. As thrilling as these moments can be, however, they do take on a familiar, crisis-of-the-week feel as the series progresses.
Thankfully, the action among the stars is nicely balanced with ample drama back on Earth. Having committed to this risky, extended mission, Emma Green has left her family to cope with her absence, as well as whatever "normal" life throws their way. This conceit fuels the show's emotional core, one that frequently pulls at the heartstrings to the point where you might be fighting back a tear or two. Some of these moments can feel a bit manufactured, and the series does drift into heavy-handed melodrama territory. Still, excellent, grounded performances from both Swank and Charles generally ensure the heavy displays of emotion are more earnest than maudlin. Science fiction fans expecting a ripping action-adventure in the vein of Netflix's Lost in Space reboot might find themselves disappointed in Away's more cerebral, emotional take on the genre. Those who enjoy their stargazing with a heaping side of tear-jerking family drama, however, will want to follow this one all the way to Mars.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the exploration of space. What is the point of Away's mission to Mars? Does the importance of space travel outweigh its risks? Do any real-world, historical space missions remind you of Away's mission?
What are the various roles the astronauts play in Away? What specializations do they bring to the mission? Why were these particular astronauts chosen for this mission?
Why does Emma accept the mission to Mars? Has she chosen her profession over her family? What are the pros and cons of her traveling to Mars and leaving her family for three years?
- Premiere date: September 4, 2020
- Cast: Hilary Swank, Josh Charles, Talitha Eliana Bateman
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Character strengths: Communication, Courage, Curiosity, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-14
- Available on: Streaming
- Last updated: December 19, 2020
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