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Black Monday

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Black Monday TV Poster Image
Strong performances buoy uneven, mature Wall Street comedy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Greed is king in this world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While it's refreshing to see a diverse group of traders in a Wall Street-centered story, their erratic and excessive behavior isn't necessarily something you'd want to emulate. Regina Hall's "Dawn" is perhaps the most layered character, and does a terrific job bringing some gravitas to her storyline as a black businesswoman struggling to be taken seriously in a world where her own husband and family want her to quit her job and start having kids.

Violence

The show opens with a scene of someone falling from a skyscraper and landing on top of a car, blood spatters and all. 

Sex

Nearly nonstop sexual jokes and references, some crude slurs about someone's sexual preference. Characters make out. References to prostitutes. A man's penis is seen in the first episode, repeatedly being laid on another man's shoulder as a prank.

Language

Every profanity in the book is uttered in this no-holds-barred series, including "f--k" and "s--t." 

Consumerism

Tons of brand names mentioned and showcased (albeit, brands of the 1980s), as many of the characters are wealth and status-obsessed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

These traders absolutely love cocaine, and it is in constant use. Plenty of drinking and smoking as well.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Black Monday is a dark comedy about Wall Street set in the 1980s, which features lots of on-screen drug use (the brokers are completely obsessed with cocaine, which is a running gag) as well as drinking and smoking. A man's penis is shown in the first episode, though in a comedic and not sexual context. The series is rife with slurs about people's ethnicity, religion, and sexual preference. Some brief makeout scenes and frequent sexual references. Many and varied creative profanities are used, including "f--k" and "s--t."

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What's the story?

BLACK MONDAY follows the story of Maurice "Mo" Monroe (Don Cheadle, House of Lies), the cocaine-addicted and cocky head of Wall Street's 11th most successful brokerage firm, the Jammer Group. The series title refers to Monday, October 19, 1987 -- the date that marks the real-life worst stock market crash in the history of Wall Street -- and serves up a satirical, fictionalized take on the secret events that may have led to this fateful day. Rounding out Mo the Marauder's ragtag group of outsiders are his long-suffering ex-girlfriend and top broker, Dawn Darcy (Regina Hall, Support the Girls), dorky newcomer Blair Pfaff (Andrew Rannells, Girls), and toupeé-clad Keith (Paul Scheer, Veep), whose over-the-top frat boy persona hides a conflicted soul.

Is it any good?

Those with little patience for period-specific sight gags and raunchy punchlines may be turned off, but the dynamic performances -- particularly by Regina Hall and Don Cheadle -- really help sell it. Black Monday is hardly the first time Hollywood has depicted 1980s excess, and at times the show seems to have trouble maintaining focus, but the rapid-fire relentlessness of the humor definitely helps set it apart. The jokes are off-color to be sure, but can also be oddly inventive and at times even veer into slapstick. The show revels in skewering the greedy, amoral behavior of these ragtag misfits of Wall Street, but there are occasional hints of something deeper that give it potential to be more than just another drug-induced walk down memory lane.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the methods Black Monday's creators use to indicate the time period they're portraying in the show. From visual cues such as clothing, cars, and electronics to frequent pop-culture references -- do these moments help or hinder your enjoyment of the series? 

  • Talk about the character of Dawn, and the challenges she would have faced as an African American businesswoman in the 1980s. How much do you think things have changed since then, if at all?

  • Why do people enjoy watching shows like Black Monday, about people who do bad things?

TV details

For kids who love history

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