A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Storylines typically show an artist's life as being a series of successes and failures ultimately leading to a current time of happiness and self-reflection.
Positive Role Models
Choice of subjects is diverse, with artists varying in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual identity, and musical genre, though most of the subjects are middle-aged or older due to the series conceit of reexamining artists featured in the first iteration of Behind the Music (1997-2014). Behavior ranges from noble to criminal, depending on the subject. Sometimes celebrities brag about sexual behavior or drug/alcohol use, though the tone of the show is generally moralistic.
Violence & Scariness
Some subjects address violence in their past: abuse, guns, violent death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexuality is a minor topic on some shows, with artists sometimes relating tales of questionable past behavior, though not in detail. At least one subject talks at length about what it was like to shield his identity as a gay man, then to come out publicly.
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Language depends on the subject; expect "hell," "damn," and the occasional "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some subjects refer to addiction and drug use, generally in context of the usage being part of a period in their lives in which they were out of control.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Behind the Music is a TV series that's something of a reboot of the original series of the same name that ran on VH1 from 1997 to 2014. On each episode, a musical artist who was featured on the earlier version of the show is re-examined, with old footage from the first episode coupled with new segments that show where the artist is now. The amount of iffy content depends largely on each subject. Some refer to excesses of sex and drugs (generally in the context of mistakes they've made in their past) as well as violence and tragic deaths. Some also are more apt to curse than others, though language is infrequent and generally hovers in the "hell" and "damn" space. Subjects featured are notably diverse in their race, ethnicity, musical style, and sexual identity, though most artists are in their 40s and above, due to the retrospective nature of the storytelling. For the most part, artists are now portrayed as at peace with their lives and able to reflect on past mistakes with reactions ranging from amusement to embarassment.
Is It Any Good?
Not so much as reboot as a continuation, this new iteration on the classic music-bio docuseries is, as always, variably enjoyable depending on how much the viewer appreciates each subject. Repackaging and adding to old Behind the Music episodes is a pretty genius concept; the show worked before, so with a little sprucing, old background details on the music makers fans know and love should shine once more, and it's fun to catch up to where these stars are now. It works, mostly, though the show retains the rags-to-riches-to-rags framing for most of its subjects that made musical biographies and the show itself something of a trope in the '90s and 2000s. The show also makes the questionable choice of framing old content as if it's a newsreel, which detracts from the emotional connection viewers might have with, say, old baby pictures and footage of fledgling stars.
But the old thrill of seeing stars unguarded still works; fans of artists like Ricky Martin and Duran Duran want to see old pictures and footage of their favorites when they were baby-faced, as well as hearing what they're up to lately, and so they shall. It's slightly depressing to realize how many of the artists in Behind the Music's catalog of 274 old episodes won't be making an appearance in the new version, having died in the interim, but reviewing a list of artists covered over the years might make some fans excited at the idea of potentially seeing more if this new version lasts. The series in itself is worth a look, even if viewers cherry-pick only the episodes that feature an artist they already like.
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.