A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that #FreeRayshawn is about a young Black Iraq War veteran who's wanted for killing a police officer. The show chronicles his subsequent attempt to argue his innocence while facing down a New Orleans SWAT team. Racism and corruption are main themes, as is the love and support of family. Car and foot chases, shootings, and other violent moments are frequent. A drug deal is discussed, and there’s lots of profanity, which includes “s--t" and “f--k.” The use of social media, particularly Instagram, is central to the story.
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What's the story?
The police drama #FREERAYSHAWN follows a young Black Iraq War veteran as he’s being hunted down for killing a police officer in New Orleans, Louisiana. Rayshawn (Stephan James) has been set up by the New Orleans Police Department on a drug deal, and he's now wanted for the murder of a police officer. After barricading himself in his apartment with his girlfriend Tyisha (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and young son, he begins to use social media as a way to convince people of his innocence. As the situation escalates, Lieutenant Steven Poincy (Laurence Fishburne) tries to get him to surrender peacefully. But officers like Sergeant Mike Trout (Skeet Ulrich) are determined to avenge their fellow officer’s death, and Rayshawn is convinced that he will never see justice unless he can convince people to listen to his side of the story.
Is it any good?
This dramatic, tension-filled series tells the fictional story of one man’s efforts to save himself from a racially corrupt criminal justice system. Rayshawn’s experience as a frightened Black man who is trying to prove his innocence to a system that is already stacked against him highlights some of the real-life accusations faced by the New Orleans police department. But while it sends a clear political message -- and despite the impact of social media on the events of the harrowing day -- the overall story doesn’t feel particularly new. Nonetheless, #FreeRayshawn is well-produced and well-acted, and offers some binge-worthy entertainment for those who like crime dramas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about police corruption. #FreeRayshawn is a fictional story, but what points does the show make about the New Orleans criminal justice system? Is this based on stereotypes, or is there a historical context for the idea that this system is racist and corrupt?
How is social media used by law enforcement and other agencies? What are the benefits of using it? Drawbacks? How does the use of social media impact the way people think about the criminal justice system?
What other shows, movies, or books are you familiar with that tackle race and police corruption? Are there any specific themes or points made that thread all the stories together?
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