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 series, like the 2006 Oscar-winning movie that inspired it, is intended for mature audiences. It explores complex social problems like racial tension and police corruption, and much of the characters' inappropriate behavior is meant to be examined within this intricate context. Language is strong and uncensored ("f--k," "s--t"), and racist epithets (including the "N" word) are used frequently. Shootings, stabbings, and other violent acts are visible; alcohol consumption and drug use (marijuana, cocaine, prescription pills) are frequent; and there's lots of sexual talk and even some partial nudity.
What's the story?
Inspired by the 2006 Oscar-winning film of the same title, CRASH explores some of America's social problems through the intersecting lives of a group of Los Angelenos. Dennis Hopper stars as Ben Cendars, a self-destructing record producer who hires Anthony Adams (Jocko Sims) as his street-smart personal driver. Across town, LAPD Lieutenant Axel Finet (Nick E. Tarabay) pursues criminals by disregarding the law and the rights of individuals -- including EMT/former gang member Eddie Choi (Brian Tee) -- while also trying to preserve his relationship with Officer Bebe Arcel (Arlene Tur), whose partner, Kenny Battaglia (Ross McCall), finds himself in a dangerous relationship with accident victim Inez (Moran Atias). Meanwhile, housewife Christine Emory (Clare Carey) attempts to keep her Brentwood life looking perfect, while immigrant Cesar Uman (Luis Chavez) is doing what he can to remain in the United States. As they all deal with their own personal struggles, their lives cross and sometimes crash into one another, bringing out both the best and the worst in one another.
Is it any good?
Thanks to the ever-present undercurrent of intolerance that pervades every story line, CRASH is a gritty, intense viewing experience. Most of the characters are simultaneously likable and despicable as they cope with others' prejudices while also imposing their own ignorance and bigotry. While watching this endless cycle of destructive and immoral activities can become almost too arduous, the characters' behavior is presented as both the cause and result of the complex relationships and power differentials that have emerged between communities defined by race, class, and gender.
Crash is challenging series, but it's also both intelligent and well written. What makes it compelling is the way that each narrative seamlessly collides with the others and the gradual transformation of characters from multicultural caricatures to multifaceted individuals. Mature viewers looking for a vigorous viewing experience will definitely find it, but a lot of the show's content -- which includes nudity, strong language, racist epithets, and violence -- makes it inappropriate for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about racial tensions in America. How do the stories of each of the show's characters represent existing stereotypes about different racial/ethnic communities? What are these categorizations based on? Families can also discuss how TV shows, movies, and other forms of media contribute to the dialogue about some of America's social problems. Does a series like this help open dialogues about racism, sexism, and drug violence? Or does it simply perpetuate preexisting ideas about different communities? Is the media the right forum to be addressing these issues in the first place?