Guerrilla

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Guerrilla TV Poster Image
Convoluted story set during '70s Black Power movement.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Racism, Black Power, radicalism in 1970s London are addressed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some activists are more extreme than others. 

Violence

Guns, shootings, killings, mob violence, brutal beatings; blood visible. Sexual assault.

Sex

Illicit relationships. Crude references to genitalia (“c--t”). 

Language

"S--t," "f-ck," the N-word. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking (beer, hard liquor), some smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guerrilla is a fictional series that explores the real-life history of the United Kingdom's Black Power Movement during the 1970s. It contains mature themes, ranging from institutional racism and political radicalization to romances and illicit affairs. Shootings, beatings, and events that amount to terrorism are frequent, and a sexual assault is also shown. There’s cursing, and some drinking, too.  

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What's the story?

Written by 12 Years A Slave’s John Ridley and produced by Idris Elba, GUERRILLA is a fictional series about a mixed-race couple that starts a radical activist group in 1970s London. Marcus Hill (Babou Ceesay) and Jas Mitra (Freida Pinto) are community activists trying to take a peaceful and educated stand against a growing nationalist movement that continues to target immigrants from the British colonies who are settling in the United Kingdom. When a fellow activist is brutally killed by police during a protest under the order of Chief Inspector Pence (Rory Kinnear), they begin to radicalize and form an underground cell to break out activist Dhari Bishop (Nathaniel Martello-White). Soon they fully commit themselves to the Black Power Movement, and continue to seek justice by any means necessary. As the chaos continues, Jas’ ex-boyfriend friend Kent (played by Elba) reluctantly tries to be the voice of reason. 

Is it any good?

This dramatic series offers both a glorified and painful look at the Black Power Movement in the United Kingdom during the politically volatile 1970s. It explores the kind of institutional injustices and cultural attitudes that motivated the radicalization of communities of the time, including Black, Indian, Irish, and White African racial and ethnic groups. But it awkwardly weaves this around Marcus and Jas’ relationship, as well as other key characters’ backstories. Meanwhile, the choppy introduction of multiple characters and resistance groups into the narrative often makes it difficult to follow. 

Guerrilla does succeed at showing how complicated and chaotic this chapter in British history is. However, while it offers a realistic portrayal of the ruthless violence employed by law enforcement and nationalists, its characterization of the actual Movement in the United Kingdom, which was mostly an intellectual one, makes its groundbreaking work appear more more violent than it really was. Taking this creative license serves to underscore how government and law enforcement characterized them, and, of course, heighten the drama. But it also paints a picture that isn’t very accurate. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of the Black Power Movement. What is it? What is it significance in American history? British history? How has the media and shows like Guerrilla represented this movement?   

  • Guerrilla explores the reasons some people choose to resist against political and social norms. Are these reasons enough to justify violence? Can change really happen with peaceful resistance? How?

TV details

For kids who love historical drama

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