A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
It looks at life behind bars, but addresses issues like family, self-awareness, self-empowerment, and taking responsibility for one's actions.
Positive Role Models
The guards and staff exhibit tough love, but appear to care enough to try to make a positive difference in their lives. Many students struggle as a result of difficult home situations, while others simply continue to make bad choices.
Violence & Scariness
Students often yell, scream, and argue with each other and with guards. Some of the inmates are incarcerated for assault, armed robbery, or threats to commit serious bodily harm. Things are thrown and broken. Child abuse and molestation, accidental deaths, and other violent events are also briefly discussed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Conversations about relationships, including single-sex relationships are had, and occasionally argued about. No intimate touching is allowed among the students, but it happens.
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Lots of cursing, including "f--k," "s--t." Young women often gear this towards adults.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some students are incarcerated while suffering from addiction; one continues to struggle after her mother forced her to do heroine. Out of detention, they often get in trouble for drinking, smoking marijuana, doing heroin, etc. (but these activities aren't shown). Cigarette smoking is also visible.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Girls Incarcerated is a documentary series that follows the lives of teenagers serving time in an Indiana maximum level juvenile detention center. There are lots of discussions of disturbing and violent events, ranging from child abuse and forced drug use to using deadly weapons and armed robbery. Yelling and arguing are frequent, and the language is full of cursing, too. But it also highlights the importance of young women to take responsibility for their actions, and the need to help them get educated and prepared to function in society regardless of what they've been through.
Is It Any Good?
This intense series tells the gritty stories of young women who find themselves serving time in a setting that is designed to both punish them for their wrong-doings, but still give them the skills and support necessary to be able to live better lives once released. While some of the students are able to function in a dorm-like setting and earn privileges while building these skills, others seem to be caught in a revolving door that keeps them from moving forward thanks to being unable to break free from old habits and behaviors. Many who are released inevitably find themselves back in the system thanks to being unable to follow probation rules, interacting with toxic family and friends, and an inability to build their own self-esteem.
Watching these students' ups and downs may prove interesting or entertaining, but many of their life stories, which include growing up with drug-addicted parents, enduring physical and sexual trauma, living in extreme poverty, and in some cases, being abandoned by family members altogether, are tragic. These narratives also underscore some of the larger societal issues that are contributing to their delinquency. But despite the compassion the Madison staff have for the students, their difficulties aren't framed as excuses for anti-social or criminal behavior. it's a complex reality, and one that Girls Incarcerated manages to capture from the point of view of those who live it every day.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.