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 this reality show features re-enactments of convicted criminals escaping from prison, which often include brutish violence that sometimes leaves inocent victims dead. Once free, the criminals sometimes assault police officers in their efforts to stay on the outside. Viewers hear about the prison breaks in great detail from the criminals themselves, who have been recaptured. There’s no swearing, drinking, or sex, but the nature of the series makes it better for teens and older.
What's the story?
Facing years behind bars, sometimes multiple life-sentences, the convicts in BREAKOUT make the desperate, daring choice to escape. This reality series features interviews with the criminals (back in prison after they’ve been recaptured), who describe their dangerous schemes in detail. Actors re-create the incidents, showing the tense situations as the cons make their break for freedom.
Is it any good?
Breakout must be meant as a cautionary tale, showing the folly of trying to escape the long arm of the correctional system. But it faces a nearly insurmountable problem: creating the kind of drama needed to make the show entertaining forces the viewer to side with the criminals. Rooting for the guards would be too dull, but pulling for the escapees makes no sense, because these are bad people. They are behind bars for a reason, and their escape plans sometimes leaves guards injured, or worse. In their after-the-fact interviews, the escapees seem to show remorse for their actions, but it’s hard to take them seriously. Does anyone expect them to say anything else?
Jailbreaks are a classic movie genre; the plans are complex, there’s so many things that can go wrong, there’s a lot on the line. It’s hard to make a bad breakout show. But there’s a reason most of them are about prisoners of war. The viewer needs to empathize with the escapees, to hope they get out. But that’s hard to do with real criminals. The series is well crafted, and the stories are dramatic -- it’s just tough to make this topic into entertainment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about shows that focus on real criminals. What purpose does a show like this serve? Does it glamorize the experiences of criminals, or does it teach a lesson about complying with the law? Who do you sympathize with while watching the show, and why? What impact did the violence in the show have on you?
How does this show, about convicted criminals, compare to some of the classic breakout movies and TV shows about wartime prisoners?
If you were sentenced to a long stretch behind bars, would you want to escape? Once on the outside, what kind of life does an escaped prisoner face while on the run?
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