Emergency Call

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Emergency Call TV Poster Image
Overdramatic 911 caller unscripted series lacks story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The series attempts to underscore the fact that 911 operators and and emergency staffers have important and difficult jobs.

Positive Role Models

The emergency staffers are committed to their jobs, and are calm, mature, and when appropriate, have a sense of humor. The majority of responders are women. 

Violence

Calls report violent events including thefts, child kidnappings, and people being flooded out of cars. One operator hopes that a hiker has learned a lesson and purchases a firearm. Callers are often frustrated and angry. 

Sex

One caller reports a naked man on the street, but this is more weird than sexual.  

Language

Words like "damn" and "pissed" are audible, but stronger profanity is bleeped. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some callers sound and are presumably drunk, and drugs are sometimes referenced. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Emergency Call is an unscriped series hosted by Luke Wilson that features 911 operators responding to emergency phone calls. Many of the calls are from people who are frightened or in peril, while others are complaints or reports of disturbing behavior, like seeing a naked man on the street. (No nudity is actually seen.) Words like "damn" and "pissed" are audible, but stronger profanity is bleeped. 

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What's the story?

EMERGENCY CALL is a docudrama featuring 911 call operators from around the United States taking emergency calls. Hosted by Luke Wilson, the series shows how call centers work, and the process by which they dispatch the appropriate first responders. From a child kidnapping in Austin, Texas, to a hiker being stalked by a grizzly bear in on an Alaskan mountain trail, each call requires them to stay calm and do everything they can to ensure the person in danger will receive the help they need in time. 

Is it any good?

This absurd unscripted series allows viewers to watch first responders take calls from people dialing 911. It’s unclear whether these individuals are actors or actual emergency staff, and if the calls are edited or recreated. Meanwhile, viewers aren’t given the opportunity to see the emergency event, or the rescue. 

Outside of listening in on the phone calls and watching the reactions of emergency staff, there isn’t much of a story here. Much of the drama feels manufactured, including Luke Wilson’s deadpan demeanor while highlighting the importance and difficulty of a 911 operator's job. As a result, Emergency Call is hard to take seriously. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kind of skills a person has to have in order to be a good emergency responder. What kinds of things do the staffers on Emergency Call do to help each individual situation?

  • What is the difference between an unscripted reality series and a docudrama? If a series doesn't indicate which of the two it is, how can you tell?

TV details

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