Dope

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Dope TV Poster Image
Disturbingly detailed drug docu has violence, insight.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The illegal drug trade includes many facets and involves many people. Poverty and race discussed. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Law enforcement wants to get drugs and guns off the streets to protect lives. 

Violence

Raids, police chases, and other violent moments shown. Guns of all kinds visible, and conversations about people getting shot and murdered are frequent. Footage of dead, bloody bodies covered in sheets, and skeletal remains shown. 

Sex

Prostitution discussed in some installments. 

Language

Lots of cursing, including "f--k" and "s--t." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs of all kinds are harvested, processed, packaged, sold, and consumed on camera. Detailed demonstrations are given of drugs being cooked and readied for consumers. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dope is a documentary series about people working in, and fighting against, the illegal drug trade. Interviews contain lots of cursing, and the risks that come with being in the trade, including violent murders, are discussed. Not surprisingly, there's lots of drug-based content, including scenes of people buying, processing, selling, and consuming illegal drugs of all kinds (offered in context, but still disturbing). Guns are visible, and images of dead, bloody bodies covered in sheets are shown. Older teens might be able to handle it, but it's not meant for kids. 

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What's the story?

DOPE is a documentary series that looks on the United States' war on drugs from various angles. From Baltimore, Maryland, to the Sinaloa region of Mexico, cameras follow real suppliers, dealers, users, and members of law enforcement to get an honest, real-time look at the different roles people of all ages play when working in, and fighting against, the illegal drug trade. Interviews with different individuals associated with the industry, many of whom remain anonymous, offer some insight into what their lives are like and the challenges they face every day. Archival news footage of specific drug-related events, including the arrest of Mexican cartel leader El Chapo, is also featured. 

Is it any good?

This docuseries offers a raw, inside look at what it's like to work in, and battle against, the rampant and profitable illegal drug trade. From speaking to Chicago-based gang members to discussing the challenges of federal law enforcement on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border regarding marijuana trafficking, it reveals the difficult, harrowing, and tragic aspects of being connected to the industry. It also notes some key events in history, such as the pharmacy lootings that took place during the violent 2015 Baltimore protests, that have led to recent sales of more potent and harmful drugs, and larger numbers of people overdosing and dying as a result. 

Most of what's featured in Dope is disturbing, especially when you're listening to individuals working the trade normalize (and sometimes celebrate) violence, addiction, and murder. Scenes featuring people giving what amounts to step-by-step instructions on how to mix or cook drugs for street sales and showcasing the weapons they use are also disconcerting. But while Dope offers multiple points of view on the subject, it doesn't offer anything unexpected. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the reasons for working in the illegal drug trade. Is it just for the money? What other reasons do the people in Dope give?

  • What kind of influence does the media have on kids' decisions to use or sell drugs? Does Dope glorify the drug trade by letting dealers show off what they do on camera? Why or why not?

  • If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs or other substances, where can you go for help? If someone tries to sell you drugs, how should you handle it?

TV details

  • Premiere date: December 22, 2017
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: Streaming

For kids who love documentaries

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