I Am Rebel

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
I Am Rebel TV Poster Image
Docuseries questions breaking laws for social justice.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Breaking laws as social activism, exposing bigger lawbreakers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rebels justify breaking the law for a greater good.

Violence

Archival footage, reenactments of beatings, hijackings, violent events. Guns, blood sometimes visible.

Sex
Language

"Hell," "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ecstasy discussed in one episode.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the docuseries I Am Rebel profiles people who received national attention throughout history for breaking laws in the name of social justice. Conversations about their social activism are balanced with conversations about the moral ambiguity of their actions, some of which might be too steep for younger teens to navigate. It contains violent reenactments (including bloody gun violence) and archival historical images of frightening, sometimes brutal events. It also contains themes relating to vice, police corruption, and other social injustices. Words such as "hell" and "damn" are audible. One episode deals specifically with the creation and use of Ecstasy.

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What's the story?

From the creator of The Bourne Identity comes I AM REBEL, a reality series that profiles individuals who broke laws to shed light on crime, corruption, and other social injustices. From Weegee the Famous, whose photographs of New York's Prohibition-era crime scenes made celebrities out of gangsters, to Kevin Mitnick, the first computer hacker to use his talents against the FBI and bring attention to computer security, each of the rebels featured here defied law enforcement and often took matters into their own hands to bring attention to important social issues. Helping tell their stories are interviews with historians, law enforcement officials, and, in some cases, some of the actual people involved in each incident. Reenactments of events highlight the key moments that led up to their criminal activities, as well as the moments when some cross the line from social activism to darker, morally ambiguous behavior.

Is it any good?

This informative docuseries offers insights into why and how certain people break laws to bring attention, and subsequent changes, to larger societal problems. Some of these lawbreakers, especially those who are interviewed for the series, appear extremely sympathetic as they contextualize and justify their extreme efforts to motivate positive social change. But historians, as well as those who were directly impacted by their actions, take the other side as they underscore the harm done to others in the name of whatever it was they were fighting for.

It's not always action-packed, but the series will appeal to history buffs interested in making connections between key (and sometimes forgotten) historic events and how they affect our lives today. It also offers the important social and political contexts for each of these events, which are often underscored as reasons for some of these extreme behaviors. Regardless of whether you believe they're heroes or villains, the people featured are a part of our history and worth talking about.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of today's notorious "rebels" and how their behaviors are viewed today. The government views whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and the late computer hacker Aaron Swartz as criminals, but how does the media portray them? What impact has their choices to break the law had on the way we think about things such as privacy and internet security?

  • Families can also talk about social change. How is it enacted? Does it matter if people break the law? 

TV details

For kids who love documentaries

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