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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Heartland is a family-friendly Canadian soap opera that centers on the life of a young horsewoman and her family. The show's focus is on family and hard work, but there are also story lines about things like death, abuse, and divorce. There's some romance, but nothing really sexual. Rough moments (car accidents, punching) are rarely bloody. Teen drinking and smoking is sometimes visible. It's not meant for young kids, but most older tweens will be able to handle it.
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What's the story?
Based on the novels by Lauren Brooke, HEARTLAND is a Canadian series about a young equestrian rider who has a gift for healing horses. Amber Marshall plays Amy Fleming, who loses her mom Marion (Lisa Langlois) in a car accident. As she struggles to cope, she discovers that she has inherited her late mother's gift for healing abused and neglected horses. Along with her grandfather and horse rancher Jack Barlett (Shaun Johnston), she works to keep her mother's horse rescue work alive. But it isn't easy, especially when her practical older sister Lou (Michelle Morgan) decides to move back from New York City to try to improve the ranch's finances. Also making her life complicated is Ty Borden (Graham Wardle), a troubled young man who was hired by Marion before her death as a ranch hand. As they work together to rebuild their family and their lives, Amy learns that healing horses will help her heal her heart.
Is it any good?
Heartland, which is the longest-running one hour scripted series in Canadian history, offers a family-friendly soap opera that combines romance, teen angst, heartbreak, and family drama, which is all somehow connected to the horses Amy is healing. Adding to the show's narratives are folks like Amy's high school nemesis Ashley Stanton (Cindy Busby), Amy and Lou's father Tim (played by Chris Potter) and later, the sisters' adopted niece Georgie (Alisha Newton).
As Amy gets older she finds herself embarking on new journeys and entering into new relationships. Her family also continues to change. But like most Canadian series, violent and sexual moments are rather sanitized in comparison to many American shows. But what makes it a winner is its commitment to its major themes, which include family, courage, and the importance of having a home.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between TV shows produced in the US and those produced in other countries. What are some of the common difference between American and Canadian TV programs? Do you think these differences impact the way they are received by the other country's audiences?
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