Gold Medal Families

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Gold Medal Families TV Poster Image
Reality show highlights family sacrifice for Olympic gold.

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

Positive Messages

Family support of athletes important; athletes and families must be willing to sacrifice. Perseverance is a major theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Athletes are from all walks of life; some parents are more competitive, demanding than others.


Occasional falls; a major accident discussed, bloody wounds shown.


Under Armour, Nike, Speedo, Toyota cars, university logos, mascots.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that reality series Gold Medal Families is an unscripted series that follows six elite athletes as they prepare and compete for a place on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. It's family-friendly but features lots of competitive behavior, as well as occasional conversations about discrimination and bigotry in athletics. There are some disturbing images of bloody injuries and lots of discussions about the financial and emotional stress and sacrifice that comes with training for the Olympics. Logos for Under Armour, Nike, Speedo, Toyota, and various universities are visible throughout.

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What's the story?

GOLD MEDAL FAMILIES is an unscripted series that follows six elite athletes as they prepare and compete for a place on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team to earn the chance to win a coveted gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Narrated by Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, it follows divers Steele Johnson and Jordan Windle, Youth Olympic female boxing gold medalist Jajaira Gonzalez, Junior champion swimmer Sean Grieshop, synchronized gymnast Natasya Generalova, and gymnast Aly Raisman, known for winning two golds and a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Games. As cameras follow them during individual practices, meets, and family gatherings and through their Olympic trials, parents and siblings also share their thoughts about each athlete, the financial sacrifices they're making, and emotional pressures they face throughout.

Is it any good?

This inspiring reality series shows how these six top Olympic hopefuls, like thousands of others, are training both physically and mentally for the chance to get the gold. As expected, Gold Medal Families features the major challenges athletes must overcome to get there. But it also taps into the financial and emotional pressures these dreams place on their families, who, while wanting to support them, are also trying to cope with the costs of the sport, as well as watching their sons and daughters get constantly judged, injured, and discouraged.

The proud families admit to making these sacrifices willingly, but there's some admission to failing to completely meet their other children's needs. Some of the parents, while politely supportive of other athletes’ talents, also show off an uncomfortably competitive managerial side. Meanwhile, hearing the athletes talk about their fears, especially when it comes to letting their families, coaches, and teammates down, is also difficult. But you'll find yourself rooting for them, and they will help you appreciate what goes into every Olympic medal won.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about competitive athlethes in Gold Medal Families and some of the issues brought up when young athletes are Olympic-level. When do the physical and mental pressures of competing become unhealthy? Is it possible to be too competitive? It is appropriate for families who sacrifice for the athlete to expect something from the athlete in return?

  • Do you have a dream that you would commit your life to achieving? What kinds of sacrifices do you have to make in order to reach it? How much could (or would) your family support you as you worked toward it? 

  • How do the athletes and their families demonstrate perseverance on Gold Medal Families? Why is this an important character strength?

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