Generation Cryo

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Generation Cryo TV Poster Image
Teen's quest for donor dad raises timely talking points.

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

Positive Messages

The show raises timely and emotionally charged issues related to artificial insemination in an open and honest way by reserving judgment and letting those most affected speak for themselves. Of the story's many teen subjects, no two opinions about how to proceed are the same. Some want to find their donor parent, some don't, and many fall in the gray area. As for these teens' parents, there are similarly mixed reactions, and this process brings to light feelings and concerns long suppressed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Breeanna is set in her determination to track down Donor #1096, and she enlists the help of many of her half-siblings (and some of their parents) to get the ball rolling. Others don't share her enthusiasm and question her motives. Despite their differences of opinion and the sensitive issues at play, there's little judgment from one to another.


Rarely teens are shown kissing, in both opposite- and same-sex exchanges. Because the show's focus is the subject of sperm donation and artificial insemination, there are numerous indelicate references to this form of conception. Teens and adults talk about the donor having "jerked off" to provide the sperm, and every episode opens to Breeanna referring to her mom "doing the deed with a turkey baster."


Casual use of "damn," "hell," "ass," "dumbass," "badass," and the like. Stuff like "s-t" and "t-ts" is edited.


There's frequent mention of the Donor Sibling Registry, a nonprofit program with a website that facilitates introductions between donor-conceived offspring and their families and that occasionally enables meetings between them and the donors themselves. The show's music is cataloged on the screen, along with a prompt that encourages viewers to visit MTV's music website to hear more of it.    

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Generation Cryo raises issues related to sperm donation and artificial insemination in thoughtful and honest -– but often irreverent –- ways. Expect to hear lots of colloquialisms for the donation process, including "jerking off," "doing the deed," and conceiving via a turkey baster, as well as genitalia references in their medical and slang forms ("penis" and "t-ts," for example). Breeanna's quest to locate her donor father calls into question the concept of confidentiality and the emotional fallout for donor offspring and their families. Not surprisingly, there are many conflicting opinions at play, and plenty of affecting moments are captured on film. Even so, viewers rarely get the sense that cameras are imposing on these personal moments, and the participants' openness about their feelings touches on the scattered implications of the donation process and the emotional effects it has on those involved. Finally, because Breeanna is gay and the product of a lesbian couple, the issue of homosexuality is a frequent topic of conversation. Because of the sensitive nature of this show's topic, this is a great series to watch along with your teens.

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What's the story?

Breeanna is a teen on a mission to locate the anonymous sperm donor who accounts for half of her DNA and is her connection to the at least 15 half-siblings she's found via the Donor Sibling Registry, a nonprofit organization that facilitates communication between offspring of a mutual donor. GENERATION CRYO chronicles Breeanna's cross-country journeys to meet her new half-brothers and -sisters and their families and, hopefully, to identify their missing link, Donor #1096. Along the way she discovers that not everyone shares her desire to meet the man who fathered these 16 teens and young adults and that raising this issue reopens old wounds for some of these parents and offspring. But, with her determination and the help of this new extended family, Breeanna might just get her chance to have all her questions answered.

Is it any good?

Generation Cryo follows Breeanna as she pieces together clues to her full biological identity. As you would imagine, it's neither a quick nor an easy journey, and, with every new connection she makes to half-siblings and their families, more questions arise about her motivations and the possible outcome of her quest. Some, like twins Hilit and Jonah, have no interest in coming face-to-face with Donor #1096; for others, like Jesse, Breeanna's quest touches a nerve about how they view themselves and their places within their own family structures. Their personal journey makes for riveting entertainment, but whether the emotional fallout is worth the ultimate prize for everyone involved is yet to be seen.

Beyond the issue of donation and artificial insemination, Generation Cryo touches on broader concepts in thoughtful ways as well. What defines a family? What role, if any, does DNA play in that definition? Where do the parents with no biological connection to their children fit in to this new dynamic? And, as Breeanna's quest brings her closer to learning the identity of her donor father, a big question emerges: Is there such a thing as anonymity in today's culture? As donor children come of age in greater numbers and have unprecedented access to information on the Internet, these are issues with which many will wrestle.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the family structure. What criteria do you use to define your family? Is yours a "traditional" picture of a family? Does such a thing exist anymore?

  • Teens: Do you think you would share Breeanna's desire for information if you were in her shoes? Would you feel differently if your family structure was different, as is Jonah and Hilit's? How do you think the donor will feel if/when Breeanna finds him? Is this show an argument for or against the donation process?

  • If not for the internet, would this kind of quest be possible? What are the advantages to having so much information at our fingertips? Are there disadvantages? What steps can you take to safeguard your privacy to some degree?

TV details

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