Bobby Kennedy for President

TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Bobby Kennedy for President TV Poster Image
Honest, revealing docu shows many sides of political legend.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The documentary's focus on the social issues of the 60s highlights the need to treat others like equals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Realistic presentation of Robert Kennedy. Filmmakers don't gloss over his early days as a part of the McCarthy hearings and his questionable decision to wiretap Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but use those events as counterpoints to show his evolution into a vocal, tenacious advocate for people of color and the poor. Also shown are other political role models, including Cesar Chavez, MLK, and Dolores Huerta.

Violence

Archival footage of racial violence is shown. Footage of severely wounded soldiers and Vietnamese citizens is shown. The assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., are discussed. The assassination of Robert Kennedy is shown with some graphic detail.

Sex
Language

Archival footage depicts people using racist language, including the "N" word.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Archival footage shows how in the sixties practically everyone smoked cigarettes. 

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bobby Kennedy for President is an engaging and illuminating documentary series that covers the public life of Bobby Kennedy. It begins with his role as attorney general in JFK's cabinet, through his senate career and run for the U.S. presidency. It also depicts his role as an early champion for civil rights, which means there's some archival footage of racial violence and of Kennedy's opponents using vulgar, racist language. It's not always easy to watch, but politically active teens or those with an interest in civics and American history may find this series of interest, and it's bound to spark questions about cultural shifts in America since the 1960s.

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What's the story?

BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT traces the public life of Robert Kennedy, and in doing so, tells the story of social progress in the 1960s. Using archival footage, much of which has never been seen before, the series follows Kennedy from his early days as a member of Senator Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee to his role in JFK's presidential campaign and cabinet position as attorney general, to his New York senatorial victory and presidential run. The filmmakers shine a spotlight on the social issues of the time as they focus on Kennedy's evolution from a hard-line advocate of the status quo to a progressive champion of civil rights. The series doesn't end with his assassination, but examines the trial of his killer and the impact his death had on the country.

Is it any good?

Eye-opening, honest, and human, this documentary is an informative and ultimately incredibly emotional look at the public life and death of Robert Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy for President doesn't paint him as a saint: It confronts how his early involvement with Joseph McCarthy and his advocating the wiretap of Martin Luther King Jr. would cast a long shadow of distrust over the course of his career, especially among people of color. The filmmakers use present-day interviews with people who worked with Kennedy to drive the narrative and then deploy archival footage to show Kennedy in action. This combination of documentary tactics helps the series ground the subject and keep it from becoming a fawning portrait of an idealized character. We're not just hearing myths about a great man, we're hearing the stories and then seeing him living them out, with the reality often outshining the legend.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the politics of Bobby Kennedy for President. Do you think Bobby Kennedy would be as successful today? How does the current political landscape differ from that of the 1960s? How is it similar?

  • Are there issues that were important in the 1960s that aren't considered important today? Why do you think that is?

TV details

  • Premiere date: April 27, 2018
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Educational
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: Streaming

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