Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to

Growing Up

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Sensitive docuseries relates teens' real-life challenges.

Growing Up Television: Poster image

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This lovely and evocative docuseries uses a mixture of narration, dramatization, and imagery borrowed from other stories to tell sensitive stories about the life challenges of real teens. Growing Up begins simply, with director/creator Brie Larson gathering together her group of young participants in a room, and then encouraging them to talk about a difficult time in their past. Each narrates their own story (or sometimes they tell their tales together, as we see in the episode focused on best friends Clare and Isabel), and each participant gets their own episode to wrap up something that was hard, what they learned, and where they are now.

It sounds trite. It isn't. Some of the experiences these teens have had are intense (homelessness, bullying, severe depression) while others seem less so on the surface (two episodes center around young women learning to take pride in their unconventional individual beauty), but as in life, the problems only seem small to others judging from the outside. Given life and color by the young people who survived their travails and learned something from them, the stories are deeply relatable and moving. There are tears, hugs, and earnest declarations ... maybe some of them from the people watching, too.

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