Deaf U

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Deaf U TV Poster Image
Reality show explores deaf culture, college life; some sex.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series is about young adults in college, but underscores that there is a deaf culture with its own norms and values. Social distinctions and stereotypes within the community are discussed. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The cast ranges from being completely deaf to those with partial hearing. There are some central Black cast members, and students come from a range of different lived experiences. Some students are more judgmental than others. One cast member is a social media influencer. 

Violence

There's some arguing and bickering between students. Discussions about growing up in bad areas, getting arrested, and the death of a parent.

Sex

Strong sexual content, including references to "scoring," having sex, orgasms, and crude sexual references. Some students discuss their sexuality. The challenges of communicating through sign language while being intimate are also discussed. A pregnancy is alluded to. 

Language

Words like "bitch," "bastard," "a--hole," and curses like "s--t," and "f--k" are frequent. Signs for negative words are also shared. 

Consumerism

iPhones are frequently visible and Siri is discussed. References to liquor brands like Captain Morgan, Henessey, and are made. Logos for Nike, Columbia sportswear, and others are sometimes visible on clothes. Instagram is referenced. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking, ranging from having wine or cocktails during happy hour or dates, to conversations about college boozing. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deaf U is a reality series featuring a cast of deaf and hard of hearing college students attending Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. There's lots of cursing, drinking, and strong sexual innuendo (crude references, conversations about sex and getting pregnant, etc.). It also offers some interesting details about deaf culture, and how people see themselves within the deaf community. iPhones are prominently featured and Instagram is discussed.

What's the story?

DEAF U follows a group of students attending Gallaudet University, a private Washington, D.C. university that focuses on the deaf and hard of hearing community. From navigating endless romantic triangles and dating turmoil, to coping with the college's small community and gossipy cliques, the students are making the most of their social lives at the private Washington D.C. university. Throughout it all, details about deaf culture, and the different ways students see themselves in it, are discussed from their points of view.

Is it any good?

This unscripted series is a lot like many reality shows in a way; it's got the standard dramatic stories, but this time combined with interesting details about deaf culture and community. Viewers hear lots of personal details about the cast thanks to one-on-one interviews, and the endless conversations they have with each other about their romantic entanglements. Unfortunately, there's not a ton of depth, which can make the discussions feel more exhausting than engaging.

However, Deaf U succeeds at informing viewers about the existence of deaf culture, and some of the particulars associated with it. Students share details about the differences in ASL (American Sign Language) fluency, how they create name signs to identify themselves and others, and the social strata within the community that are defined by deafness. Thoughts and concerns about some deaf students' willingness to cater to the hearing population is also discussed. If you can look past the mundane storylines, these conversations are the ones worth tuning in to. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about deaf culture. The students of Deaf U offer details about what this culture is like. Were you surprised by any of them? What things do people from hearing culture take for granted that deaf and hard-of-hearing people cannot? Why? 

  • The cast of Deaf U attempts to educate people about deaf culture while showing what life is like at Gallaudet University. Are they successful? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: October 9, 2020
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: October 22, 2020

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