By Melissa Camacho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Homeland Security docu deals with danger, drugs, more.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series -- which essentially functions as a promotional vehicle for Homeland Security -- highlights the amount of work and danger associated with protecting U.S. borders and controlling the entrance of illegal drugs, weapons, and immigrants.
Positive Role Models
On the up side, the customs officers are committed to protecting U.S. borders. On the downside, there's some subtle racial stereotyping.
Violence & Scariness
Weapons smuggling is a major concern for federal agents. Agents are shown with rifles and automatic weapons drawn during their patrols. Discussions about agents being shot and/or murdered. Agents claim that many illegal immigrants have criminal records; comments are often made about illegal immigrants' fears of retaliation if they reveal information about their border guide and/or if they're returned to Mexico.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Agents say that every year thousands of young girls are kidnapped from Mexico, smuggled across the border, and forced into prostitution in the United States.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug smuggling is a major theme of the show. Packages of illegally smuggled drugs -- including heroin and marijuana -- are visible.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this reality series about U.S. federal border control officers makes efforts to be objective, there's some bias in the way it presents and promotes the efforts of the Homeland Security agency. There's also some subtle racial stereotyping, and overall the content is definitely on the edgy side for kids: Drug and weapon smuggling, human trafficking, and terrorism are major themes, and guns and packages of illegal drugs are clearly visible. Weapons are drawn during ground patrols, and officers talk about past incidents of people being shot and/or killed.
Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
Review is unfair and biased about illegal immigration; very good show
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What's the Story?
BORDER WARS documents the work of the Homeland Security agency as it attempts to maintain control over the U.S. side of the 21-mile border between Mexico and Nogales, Ariz., which is considered to be the epicenter of illegal border activities. Each episode follows federal agents and officers on the ground and in the air for 24 hours as they try to intercept drug smugglers, weapons dealers, and human traffickers before they make it across the border. Officers are also called upon to rescue undocumented individuals when they get sick and/or lost in the Sonora Desert during their attempts to cross into the United States.
Is It Any Good?
This reality docuseries attempts to be objective by highlighting the hard and often dangerous work associated with protecting U.S. borders. But you can also sense that it's a promotional vehicle for Homeland Security, which has been heavily criticized in the past for racially profiling suspects and for being largely ineffective. Border control officers are quick to justify their searches of specific vehicles and their drivers, while agents who are arresting illegal immigrants (the majority of whom are of Latino heritage) continually remind viewers that many of them have criminal records.
Some viewers may have a hard time with some of the procedures and characterizations pertaining to undocumented persons. But overall Border Wars does a good job of capturing the real dangers that federal agents and officers face when they're doing their job. No matter what you might think about the politics driving government policy, it's hard to dismiss the commitment of the men and women working to ensure the country's safety.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the media is used to promote political agendas. Do you think that's appropriate and/or ethical? Do you think any of that is taking place here, or is it just another "dangerous jobs" reality show?
How does the media handle the issue of immigration? Do you think race/ethnicity/stereotyping factors into this coverage? If so, how?
What's the show's overall message? Do you think it's objective?
- Premiere date: January 10, 2010
- Cast: Bill Graves
- Network: National Geographic Channel
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: August 30, 2022
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.
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