A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that life on the oil rigs showcased in this series is mean, dirty, and very dangerous, with lots of foul language. The strongest words are bleeped, but it's clear that these guys could put sailors to shame. The danger is very real, and one of the drillers talks very graphically about losing his thumb on the rig, then later bellows at one of his roughnecks that if he doesn't move his foot, the driller will cut it off. Traditional gender roles also seem to be in play, though they're not overt about it.
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What's the story?
We've all heard that drilling for oil is a high stakes, win big, lose big proposition and that working on the oil rigs is very dangerous and rough. BLACK GOLD viscerally brings that fact home by documenting the world of the company men, the drillers (who operate the drilling equipment and supervise the rest of the crew), and the roughnecks (the guys doing the heavy lifting under the driller). The series -- produced by the same folks behind Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers -- tells a story about brave men risking their lives to bring us something we've historically taken for granted.
Is it any good?
There's plenty of drama to be had on the rigs, that much is clear. But the show has two problems. One is that the job itself is pretty repetitive, and viewers are subjected to endless shots of massive pipes being attached to other massive pipes. Secondly, viewers don't get enough of the personal stories to really connect with the guys. One of the featured roughnecks, called Peanut because of his small size, talks about having to constantly prove himself and work harder, but he never says anything about why he's doing what he's doing. Another does, but he's just in it for the money -- which isn't terribly interesting, unfortunately, and adds to the impression that most of these guys are little more than crude grunts. And that's not terribly interesting, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's message. Do you think it's trying to make a political point about oil? If so, what? Parents, ask your kids whether they think the opinions being expressed on the show are fair. Families can also discuss the appeal of "dangerous jobs" series like this one. What's so fascinating about getting a glimpse of these worlds? Do you think these shows are more or less realistic than other reality series?