Caged

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Caged TV Poster Image
Docuseries mixes amateur fighting with relationship drama.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

While the series doesn't actively promote the fighters' lifestyle -- which includes iffy behavior involving violence, risk taking, and heavy drinking -- there's some glorification of their lives. That said, there's also the sense that they're doing their best to get ahead and provide for their families.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The young adults featured here state that fighting, drinking, and having sex are big parts of their lives. On the up side, most of the fighters respect each other.

Violence

Mixed martial arts matches feature boxing, wrestling, and martial arts moves that can inflict serious injuries, like broken bones. Some fighters use extremely dangerous measures to lose pounds to meet weight limits before matches. The sudden tragic death of a girlfriend is a major theme.

Sex

References to getting "laid." A fighter's sister is a stripper. Victory dances include some lewd movements. "Cage girls" are dressed in tight, belly revealing outfits.

Language

Words like "crap" and "piss" are audible; words like "ass" and "s--t" are fully bleeped.

Consumerism

Local gym and MMA circuit logos are sometimes visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent heavy drinking (beer, hard liquor); young people are shown playing drinking games. One cast member takes medication for attention deficit disorder; one parent is an alcoholic.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series about career mixed martial arts fighters includes lots of risky behavior, including heavy drinking and fighting while injured. It has scenes of young men training for and competing in full-contact combat, which often results in serious injuries (broken bones, etc.). There's also some strong language ("piss," "crap," "bitch"; stronger words bleeped) and sexual innuendo. Death, single parenthood, and alcoholism are also themes. Viewers of all ages should be reminded that the moves featured here can cause serious injury and shouldn't be attempted without the supervision of trained professionals.

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What's the story?

CAGED follows young amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters as they negotiate their cage-fighting careers with the trials and tribulations of life in the small town of Minden, Louisiana. Viewers meet Wesley Branch, who's trying to balance fighting, fatherhood, and his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Jessica; Matt "Danger" Schnell, who has given up his job and moved back home in order to train in hopes of proving himself to his family; Tony Kelly, who's working hard for a professional contract; and Daniel Payne, a young fighter struggling with the tragic death of his girlfriend and a reputation brought on by his privileged upbringing. Their week days are full of work, training, and day-to-day problems, but on Saturdays they try to push it out of their minds when they're locked in a cage and engaging in full-contact combat. For them, it's not just about winning the match, but winning recognition, respect, and, in some cases, the chance to build a better life.

Is it any good?

Caged takes a voyeuristic look at the lives of small-town MMA fighting hopefuls and combines typical reality narratives about love and relationships with MMA fight drama. The show highlights how some young men are looking to build careers out of the sport, while others are turning to the cage thanks to a lack of viable alternatives to keep them out of trouble or to cope with the pressures of their daily lives.

Regardless of the reasons, these young men are driven to win, even if that means taking drastic measures like fighting with broken bones or spending hours in dangerously overheated environments to sweat off pounds a few hours before a qualifying weigh-in. Teen MMA fans may find it entertaining, while others may simply find this particular small-town lifestyle interesting to watch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mixed martial arts. What are the roots of this style of combat? What's the regulating body that sets the rules for these matches? Do you think this series offers a real look at what MMA is really about?

  • Researches have noted that there can be a negative impact on children who are exposed to too much violence in media. But what about watching regulated athletic events like boxing or mixed martial arts? What are the differences between watching violent events on television and fighting for sport? Parents, how can we make those distinctions?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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