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Black Earth Rising

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Black Earth Rising TV Poster Image
Complex, excellent British series about Rwanda is violent.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The Rwandan genocide, like other international events pertaining to Africa, were partly caused by the complicated political games played by non-African people who often overlook the human consequences of their decisions. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kate Ashby is strong, but constantly struggles with her past as she navigates her present life. 

Violence

Guns, rifles, machetes visible; people are killed (sometimes blood and guts visible). Discussions of torture; images of scars, corpses, etc. Suicide discussed. Brutal scenes of the genocide are presented in animated form. 

Sex

Some occasional strong sexual innuendo. An extramarital affair discussed. 

Language

Lots of cursing: "s--t," "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An overdose is alluded to. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Black Earth Rising is a complicated, adult-oriented dramatic series that centers around the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Discussions about the torture and killings during that time are frequently discussed. People are also attacked and gunned down, resulting in bloody (and sometimes gruesome) images. There are references to suicide and a drug overdose, and prescription drugs are visible. Cursing is frequent.

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What's the story?

BLACK EARTH RISING is a limited British series about a Rwandan genocide survivor who is unable to escape her past. Kate Ashby (Michaela Cole) can barely remember when she was rescued adopted as a young child by renown international lawyer Eve Ashby (Harriet Walter), but is still troubled by the trauma she experienced. Now a legal investigator, she works in the same chambers as her mother and lead prosecutor Michael Ennis (John Goodman). But when Eve agrees to prosecute General Simon Nyamoya (Danny Sapani), a militia leader who once fought to end the genocide against the Tutsis in the International Criminal Court at the Hague for crimes against humanity, Kate struggles with her mother’s decision to try the case, and is forced to revisit the horrors of her past. 

Is it any good?

This intense series drives home the complex nature of international politics, and how easy it is to forget the human costs involved. Kate Ashby, a Rwandan Tutsi survivor, serves as the reminder of the physical, emotional, and psychological torment endured by Tutsis who survived the atrocities committed against their people by the ruling Hutu during the Rwandan Civil War. But rather than simply being a survivor’s tale, Kate’s story serves as a platform from which to examine how years of European colonialism led up to, and failed to stop, the brutal slaughter of millions of people. 

Conspiracies are woven throughout Kate Ashby’s personal narrative, noting the ways the French government was complicit in the genocide, and their consistent efforts to hide this fact by pointing to Africans as being solely responsible for what happened. It also highlights the United States and other country’s efforts to reinforce this way of thinking, stressing how, when it comes to Africa, the present geopolitical maneuverings of the West continue to reflect these imperialist attitudes. Ultimately, Black Earth Rising is a smart series, and a difficult reminder of what happens when we lose our sense of humanity. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Who are the Hutu and the Tutsis? What led up to this horrific event? Why didn’t the international community get involved? 

  • Black Earth Rising addresses what happens when inherently racist views are held by people in power. How does the media perpetuate these types of views? What can be done to stop this?

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TV details

For kids who love drama

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