Flint Town

TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Flint Town TV Poster Image
Powerful docuseries examines crime and cops in Flint, Mich.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Flint residents show perseverance as they fight for health and safety. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young, ambitious police officer Bridgette Balasko is strong and compassionate. Frustrated citizens are trying to do the best by their families. 

 

Violence

The effects of violent crime are shown; a mother cries over her teenage son who has just been fatally shot (the actual shooting is not shown); an officer describes shooting a man; a YouTube video of a Minnesota cop shooting a man is shown; violent crimes are described.

 

Sex
Language

"F--k," "s--t." 

 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Confiscated marijuana is displayed by the cops; police officers encounter suspects who are drunk or on drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flint Town is a documentary series on Netflix that offers a devastating look at the crime, politics, and police in the city of Flint, Michigan. The everyday horrors of living in a violent city are shown, including a woman pleading and crying over the death of her 15-year-old son who was just shot in her front yard. This series does not hold back on depicting violent situations and adult language as anger, frustration, and outrage permeate all facets of the community. The show provides a good opportunity to talk to teens about police violence, race, and the impact the economy has on how a city operates.

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What's the story?

After decades of economic depression, Flint, Michigan, is one of the most dangerous cities in America. FLINT TOWN is an eight-episode documentary filmed over a 14-month period that examines life in Flint through the perspective of the terribly understaffed police department. City budget cuts reduced the number of total force from 300 to just 98 officers for a city of 100,000 residents. While the primary focus is on the cops, this is not a one-sided presentation. The filmmakers interview citizens who feel harassed and also show disagreements among the officers themselves.

Is it any good?

Beautifully shot and edited, this sobering documentary about the Flint, Michigan, police department addresses issues facing the entire country. Citizens who fear police and police who work in fear are depicted, and the filmmakers use a number of documentary techniques -- direct address to the camera, ride-along footage, montage -- to present a very objective view of life in an economically depressed and violent city.  Due to the amount of time the filmmakers were embedded with the police department, Flint Town is able to look at all sides of the law enforcement chain of command and observe the consequences of decisions made at the top. The documentary shows us the election of a new mayor and the transfer of power from one chief of police to the next, and how politics impact the officers on the ground and the community at large. During the course of filming, numerous police shootings occurred across the country, and we see the officers react to the news footage of these events. Race is of course a factor here, and the diverse members of the Flint PD have differing opinions about how these situations could have been handled.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about government. Why isn't it able to help the people of Flint? Should its power have limits? 

  • Do the filmmakers of Flint Town objectively portray the situation in Flint? What are some things they do to show they aren't taking sides? What are some things they do that potentially show a specific point of view?

  • How does the water crisis in Flint impact the relationship between the community and the police? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: March 2, 2018
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Drama
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: Streaming

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