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Burn the Stage
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 Burn the Stage is an 8-part documentary series covering the 2017 world tour of mega-popular Korean boy band BTS (aka Bangtan Boys). It offers a backstage glimpse at the performers as they endure grueling rehearsals and a strenuous touring schedule. This isn't a sex-drugs-and rock'n'roll type exposé, as the members are pretty respectful of one another and their fans, and the craziest things get backstage is when someone drops a cake. They do briefly touch on issues like depression, and the way that dedication to your craft can take an emotional and physical toll. The series is almost entirely in Korean, but subtitles are available.
What's the story?
BURN THE STAGE gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the seven dedicated performers who make up the band BTS (an acronym for the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan, meaning Bulletproof Boy Scouts -- though they're also known as "Beyond the Scene"). The series follows their highly-anticipated 2017 "Wings" tour, which saw them cross the globe, selling out arenas and thrilling international fans for nearly a year straight. Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, V and Jungkook take their roles in the group very seriously, and we get intimate glimpses of how they relate to one another and how their relationships have evolved as their collective star rises.
Is it any good?
If you hear "behind the scenes" and expect smoking, drinking, and groupies -- well, this documentary doesn't offer any of that. The members of BTS are, by and large, a thoughtful, sweet, and just plain adorable bunch who seem to genuinely enjoy one another's company, whether they're singing their hearts out on stage or camped out in their hotel room eating takeout and pulling innocent pranks on one another (chocolate-flavored ramen, anyone?). They're young and becoming increasingly famous, which means the pressure is increasing as well -- but but this crew is so deeply devoted to one another that even when Burn the Stage does cover moments of conflict, they find a way to resolve their differences with patience and kindness.
The series also doesn't shy away from showing the downsides of nonstop performing. In one worrisome scene, then-19 year old Jungkook is shown pale, sweaty, and nearly passed out backstage from illness. You imagine this guy can't possibly go on, but after receiving an oxygen boost and some fever-reducing icepacks to his neck, he makes his way onstage and performs to a packed stadium full of fans. The level of professionalism with this crew is pretty astonishing, and seeing this kind of dedication at work makes it easy to understand why BTS is topping music charts worldwide -- even beating out performers like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez for Billboard awards.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about seeing the glamour of a live performance versus the reality of what goes into making the performance happen. Did anything surprise you about the way BTS prepares for their live concerts in Burn the Stage? How were the bandmates' relationships with one another depicted?
BTS have become a Billboard-charting worldwide phenomenon, despite the fact that most of their lyrics are in Korean (or Japanese, on their Japan-released records) with some occasional English rap breaks mixed in. What is it about the K-Pop genre that gives it such universal appeal, even among people who don't speak the language?