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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Free Rein is a family-friendly British drama series that centers on a confident, principled teen who's a fantastic female role model. The story alludes to some family strife that inspired Zoe, her mother, and her sister to relocate to England for the summer, but it avoids detail and offers Zoe an opportunity to shine as her family's rock. She's also great around her peers, dismissing pretentiousness and embracing real friendship. For those drawn to the series because of its equine angle, there are plenty of scenes of horses and riding -- in particular, those featuring the majestic Raven. If you're looking for a new series you can share with the family, this heartwarming drama may be just the thing.
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What's the story?
In FREE REIN, a summer in the English countryside is just what 15-year-old Zoe (Jaylen Barron) needs after the strain of family and friend drama over the past year. Along with her mom, Maggie (Natalie Gumede), and her little sister, Rosie (Navia Robinson), Zoe leaves Los Angeles for the tiny island off the coast of England where her grandfather lives, excited for some quiet time and mental recuperation. To her surprise, though, there's plenty of drama awaiting her there, starting with her inexplicable connection to the local stable's rebellious stallion, Raven, and continuing with the ensemble of residents and employees frequenting the area. As Zoe makes new acquaintances, she discovers among them friends, enemies, and swirling secrets that hide true intentions.
Is it any good?
This thoughtful British coming-of-age drama gives viewers lots of reasons to love it, starting with an exceptional teen lead in Zoe. Caught in the midst of family and personal trials, she's the glue that holds her family together. A role model to her younger sister (even though Rosie rarely recognizes it) and often confidante to her mom, Zoe maintains a level head, values honesty over reputation, and chooses her friends with care. She's not swayed by wealth or influence, and (gasp!) she actively engages in quality time with her family.
Free Rein is quality entertainment for the whole family. Besides Zoe, there are a number of appealing characters in the story, including her sage grandfather and her new friends. Some are more mysterious, harboring secrets that get revealed over time and maintain an enticing level of suspense. The show does touch on some mature themes such as marital discord, but it does so gently and in ways that invite discussion afterward.
Talk to your kids about ...
In what ways does Zoe model admirable behavior as a teen in Free Rein? Is she a believable character? What qualities are important to you in a role model for girls in particular?
How does your family keep open the lines of communication? Why is it important to share your feelings with those close to you? Why is communication an important character strength? In what ways does technology help us communicate with others?
How is racial diversity presented on TV shows and in movies? How does what we see on the screen influence our impression of the world?
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