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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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?
- Premiere date: April 16, 2017
- Cast: Babou Ceesay, Freida Pinto, Idris Elba
- Network: Showtime
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Activism
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
12 Years a Slave
Imperfect but must-see epic drama with major cruelty.
Outstanding drama about MLK's fight for equal rights.
Lee Daniels' The Butler
Well-acted civil rights tale is moving but too formulaic.
The Black List: Vol. 1
Profound docu explores African-American racial identity.
For kids who love historical drama
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