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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dear ... is a documentary series that features American icons and the people who have sent them letters sharing what they mean to them. The featured people include entertainers like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Stevie Wonder, athletes Aly Raisman and Misty Copeland, and other legends like Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, and even Big Bird. Content varies from episode to episode. The Spike Lee episode features profanity; however, it's in the context of clips from his classic film Do the Right Thing. Words heard include "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," etc. Most episodes are suitable for families with younger kids and tweens, and the effect each icon has on the letter writers is moving and inspirational to watch. This series is exceptionally diverse in its choice of icons and those moved by their work. It's a great watch-together opportunity for families and offers many lovely lessons in gratitude and perseverance.
What's the story?
DEAR ... is a docuseries that shows various American icons how much they mean to individual people who have written them letters. Each icon shares a bit of their story and life experience, including their feelings on how their work and life may have impacted others. Then a letter writer is introduced, reading their letter to a person like Lin-Manuel Miranda or Big Bird in their own voice. The letter writers' stories are also told; as they read their letters, snapshots of their lives are shown interspersed with documentary-style background info about the person they've been touched by. Some of the letter writers have even been inspired to model their life's work after these icons.
Is it any good?
This inspirational series uses a unique format to highlight how media figures, musicians, athletes, and other exceptional figures can touch the life of a "regular person." The short episodes of Dear ... are ideal for families with younger kids who are fans to watch together; often documentaries can be long and weighty, but these bite-sized explorations are just enough for a start. That also means that if someone is watching because they're a fan of Aly Raisman, there's time to check out an episode on someone they're less familiar with as well -- every one of the 10 episodes tells an incredible story.
From a woman of Indian descent writing to Big Bird thanking him for helping her feel more comfortable as a kid immigrant to Stevie Wonder helping a woman who is also blind, each episode packs in a ton of info, and usually lots of tears. Sometimes it's hard to tell if the letter writers' lives are "real" or if the scenes showing their lives are enhanced in some way (they are filmed almost too beautifully), but it's moving both to hear their stories of gratitude and to see that the icons themselves are also deeply moved by their impact and influence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about inspiration. What does it mean to be an inspirational figure? Who has inspired you in your life? How?
Talk about the format of Dear ... : Who would you write a letter to, thanking them for changing your life? What would the letter say?
Many of the featured people on Dear ... have experienced hardships in their lives. How did they persevere to find success through their many challenges? Why is perseverance an important character strength?
What does it mean to express gratitude? How do the stars of this series respond to being thanked by those whose lives they've touched?
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