Parents' Guide to

Citizen Rose

By Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Trauma, healing explored in imperfect, powerful documentary.

TV E! Reality TV 2018
Citizen Rose Poster Image

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Some will criticize this documentary as an opportunity for McGowan to re-brand herself and to sell a lot of books -- and while its star is definitely cast in a self-reverential light, these critics would be missing the point. After 20 years of feeling silenced and ostracized after her alleged attack, she has earned the right to express herself and work out her demons in whatever messy, audacious, contradictory, or inspiring way she chooses. There are no "perfect" victims, and as McGowan herself expresses to fellow accuser Asia Argento, "I can be many things all at once." With Citizen Rose, she finally gets the chance to tell her story on her terms.

That said, the E! network -- best known as the breeding ground for empty, glossy fluff like Keeping Up with the Kardashians -- seems a strange home for a show so openly and deeply critical of the plastic artifice of the Hollywood media machine. The series doesn't follow the usual reality format at all, with a visual and editorial aesthetic that reads more "indie film" than E! True Hollywood Story. Though her artsy monologues about misogyny and justice can be powerful, they're also very repetitive. The show is most illuminating when it shows McGowan re-entering the world, talking and listening with other survivors, friends, and family. We witness the sheer relief on her face as she breaks down after speaking at the 2017 Women's Convention -- her visible, palpable gratefulness at finally being heard and taken seriously -- and it's moments like these when the series becomes a true catharsis with the potential to spark conversation and compel action.

TV Details

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