Can You Hear Me?
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Heartfelt female friendship drama has drugs, sex, language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
This show offers progressive messages about women and female friendship: Fabiola, Ada, and Carolanne are touchingly supportive of each other. They're honest about each other's flaws, yet they accept each other as they are and offer unwavering friendship.
Positive Role Models
Three strong, assertive women anchor this show, but it should be noted that they try to solve their problems with alcohol and drugs, trading sex for money and favors, lying and cheating, and so on. It's hard to see them as good people sometimes, but it's clear they're good friends and often victims of the systems in which they find themselves. Characters are diverse in terms of age, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and body type.
Violence & Scariness
One character has an anger problem; we see a montage of her hitting men in the face and we hear she's in anger management for breaking a man's jaw. Characters lie on train tracks to talk but scramble off when they hear the train coming.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No private parts are seen, but sexual visuals are frequent. One character has sex with suggestive movements and noises in a van, and then accepts money afterwards. Other characters are shown having romantic sex in bed and in other locations. Sex talk is frank; a woman refers to having "old cum" in her hair. Her friends then think of a litany of vulgar names for this happenstance, including a "saucy surprise." A woman dates a man she says she knows is "using" her, and her friend says the man comes over to get food and oral sex (that she refers to using vulgar slang). Another woman gets free movies at the video store by flashing the clerk (we don't see it happen). A woman tells her daughter she dresses "like a whore."
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This series is in Canadian French; cursing, like all dialogue, is subtitled. Expect "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "assh--e," "dumbass." A character flips another double middle fingers.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several characters smoke prominently and frequently. They also frequently drink to the point of sloppiness and make mistakes when drinking. A character says that her friend pays for her boyfriend's molly and that he also does speed. Characters smoke joints together.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Can You Hear Me? is a dramedy about three women who live in a down-and-out Montreal neighborhood and support one another through life's many challenges. The women find comfort and validation with each other, and they treat each other with great kindness and respect. However, parents may think these characters are poor role models. They consume drugs and alcohol, often to deal with their problems, and one trades sex for favors and money. Language is frequent (though in French, like the rest of this subtitled show): "f--k," "f--king," "s--t, " "assh--e," "whore," and more. Sex, both in visuals and in dialogue, is frank. We see characters having sex in various locales -- no private parts are visible, but there is male and female nudity, as well as suggestive movements and loud noises. A character has an anger problem and is in therapy for breaking a man's jaw; we see a montage of her hitting men in the face. A woman dates a man she knows is using her for sex and drug money. The cast is diverse in terms of background, race, religion, and body type, and women are strong, assertive, and loving to each other.
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Can You Hear Me?
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What's the Story?
CAN YOU HEAR ME? is set in a gritty Montreal neighborhood, where Ada (Florence Longpré), Fabiola (Mélissa Bédard), and Carolanne (Ève Landry) make their way through life the best they can, despite their lack of money and opportunity, bad boyfriends, unreliable family members, and all the other everyday slings and arrows. They may not have much -- but at least they know they can rely on each other in good times and bad.
Is It Any Good?
At first glance, this show's trio of main characters from the wrong side of the tracks appears to play into "girls behaving badly" tropes, but their stories are worth more than a glance. Fabiola, Ada, and Caro don't look like people on a TV show: their hair is dirty, their clothes are unkempt and ill-fitting, their teeth are crooked. Their neighborhood, with its graffiti, run-down shops, and old mattresses leaning against walls, is just as rough-and-tumble, and our three main characters scratch a living within it. Fabiola is the only one with a job, and she works at a burrito counter. Caro and Ada scrounge to keep them in cigarettes and rental movies, and Ada sometimes exchanges sex for favors and money. At home, each woman has a family that needs care, like Ada's mentally ill burnout mom and Fabi's comatose grandmother, who sits silently in a wheelchair day and night.
But if this sounds like a great big bummer, it isn't, because Can You Hear Me? finds moments of joy and beauty, just as real people do in their real lives, no matter how downtrodden they look from the outside. Late for her court-ordered anger-management therapy, Ada cadges a ride on a delivery bike; zooming down the street, she flings out her arms and grins, instantly transforming from a sweaty, stressed-out mess to an angelic figurehead. Out of cash, the three friends make enough for an evening by singing at the train station, then they lie in a heap on nearby train tracks, celebrating. Ada and Fabiola fall into what's clearly a well-worn argument about the man Fabi's dating, who, Ada points out, only comes by Fabi's house for quick sex and to steal money. Who should she date? asks Fabi. "A prince. Or the count of Monte Cristo," smiles her friend. It feels true, like the sweet sisterly support and love women count on from their girlfriends. And it makes this particular set of friends feel very lovable indeed.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the challenges that come with importing a show from another country to the United States (and vice versa). Would Can Your Hear Me? have been a good choice for American network or cable TV? Why or why not? Are the levels of language, sex, drugs, and other iffy material on par with what you see on cable or network television?
The characters in Can You Hear Me? make a lot of decisions that are potentially destructive. Is their behavior justified by the circumstances? Would your choices differ give the same situation?
Is the audience supposed to sympathize with Ada, Fabiola, and Carolanne? How can you tell? How are we supposed to regard their many transgressions? How are sympathetic characters presented, and how is that different from unsympathetic characters?
- Premiere date: December 15, 2018
- Cast: Mélissa Bédard, Ève Landry, Florence Longpré
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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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