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 Hamilton's America follows the creation of the Broadway musical Hamilton. Occasional mild cursing: "damn," is sung repeatedly, and "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped. Actors down shots of (fake) liquor as part of a performance; guns are used as dance props and there are references to and a song about a duel Alexander Hamilton fought, as well as to the death of Hamilton's son. Mild references to romance in song and choreography; one historian says Hamilton was "girl-crazy." Revealing conversations and images show how artists work together and come up with ideas. Viewers will learn more about history and Alexander Hamilton; young fans may beg their parents for tickets to the musical after watching.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
HAMILTON'S AMERICA is a documentary that picks up as Lin-Manuel Miranda is writing his musical Hamilton, which ultimately went to Broadway and won its creator a Pulitzer prize and MacArthur Genius Grant. Miranda explains how he conceived of the idea for the musical and its songs, and allows the cameras to watch as he puts together his lyrics and music and meets with his choreographer and music director. All this is intercut with excerpts of Hamilton's songs being performed onstage, illustrating what came of each meeting. At the same time, history experts explain events in Alexander Hamilton's life, illustrating the high points with historical images and animation The documentary also catches the reaction to the musical, including a performance in front of a dazzled Michelle and Barack Obama.
Is it any good?
Custom-made for Hamilton fans, this documentary explores how the musical came to be, including enough of the electrifying music to convert the uninitiated. A plain old documentary about Alexander Hamilton's life and times? Yawn, only major history buffs would want to watch that. But Miranda makes history come to life with affecting music that reveal the emotions and urgency behind the encyclopedia facts. Watching Miranda take a dry premise like Hamilton's emigration from the Caribbean island of Nevis to America and spin it into a relatable song about any young person trying to make it is fascinating, and inspirational to young artists.
That said, Hamilton's Americais a tad talky for younger viewers. Hamilton's music can appeal to any age, but this doc probably won't. Tweens and teens, though, particularly those who are interested in drama or history, may take a sudden interest in early American history after watching -- and will almost certainly want to download some of the songs, if not to see the musical onstage.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the historical events Hamilton spotlights. Why are they particularly dramatic? What other historical events or periods would make an interesting musical?
After watching this documentary, do you want to watch the full-length musical Hamilton? Do you think that was this documentary's intended effect?
For kids who love history
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