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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hillary is a four-episode docuseries about Hillary Rodham Clinton's rise from obscurity to become Secretary of State and come as close as any woman ever has to being elected President of the United States. There's little in the way of potentially objectionable content, although the episode that deals with Bill Clinton's scandalous and hushed-up affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky can get graphic in its details about body fluid stains and sexual contact that occurred in the White House (though the focus is on the fallout for Hillary Clinton). There's also a small amount of violence shown in footage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the Civil Rights Movement, including marchers holding racist signs and protestors scuffling with police. Otherwise, this series sends powerful messages about a woman who's shown impressive integrity and perseverance in standing up to sexism, scandal, and public vilification.
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What's the story?
She's hated and loved, feared and adored, an icon of the left and a punchline to the right, and HILLARY is the impressive portrait of a political life that Hillary Rodham Clinton has worked tirelessly for decades to earn. In four hour-long episodes, Hillary examines Clinton's life from her school days at Wellesley College and Yale, through her work as a young and idealistic lawyer, into her famously turbulent relationship with the future President Bill Clinton, through her years in the Senate and as Secretary of State, and finally to her 2016 Presidential bid.
Is it any good?
Jumping back and forth in time from her rabble-rousing student years to her groundbreaking 2016 Presidential bid, this docuseries is an affectionate and clear-eyed portrait of the first woman President who almost was. Hillary's thesis statement is found close to the beginning of the limited series, when the subject addresses the camera to imagine what a fitting headstone might read upon her passing: "She's neither as good, nor as bad, as people say." But though Hillary makes a decided case for the latter statement -- the email server kerfuffle that many say tanked her Presidential campaign is investigated early, and more or less dismissed as a bunch of trumped-up partisan nonsense -- the featured interviewees seem to hold uniformly high opinions of her. From former classmates to political officials to reporters, up to and including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, she is clearly held in the upmost regard by many in her professional and personal circles.
Viewers who mainly see Hillary Clinton as an elder politico will get a kick out of Hillary's first episode, which looks in on Clinton's years at Wellesley and Yale, where she was one of only 27 women in the law school. In vintage photos and video -- including a priceless glimpse of Clinton at the Watergate hearings -- her wild '60s getups and Coke bottle glasses are an amazing contrast to her famous modern sleek pantsuits, helping the viewer grasp the origins of Clinton's moderate-progressive political leanings. The next episodes, in which we traverse Clinton's bumpy introduction to the American public as First Lady, and delve into the "Zippergate" scandal of the late '90s, are more emotional and painful. But the last episode, which revolves around Clinton's time in the Senate and her emergence as the Democratic candidate for the 2016 election, is even more difficult to watch. Even as Clinton's ambitions were crushed, so was a significant part of the electorate, igniting a rage and hurt that still lingers for many. Hillary Clinton's detractors are unlikely to watch this lovely docuseries, and that's a shame, because the real woman it uncovers is something to behold.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why there has never been a female President or Vice President in the United States. What women have run for major political office, and when? Do women hold major leadership roles in other countries?
How does Hillary document Hillary Rodham Clinton's integrity and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths, particularly in politics? What are some of the qualities that make her a role model for young men and women around the world?
Hillary indicates that Hillary Clinton's political ambitions were curtailed by the email server issue that this docuseries seems to view as unimportant. Is this a common view? What other candidates have faced negative publicity during their campaigns? Did Hillary Clinton get a raw deal, in your opinion? Did this series impact your opinion?
One of the goals for documentaries is to strip away artifice that prevents viewers from knowing the subject on a personal or emotional level. Does Hillary seem to have this goal? Does it achieve it?
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