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I Am the Night

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
I Am the Night TV Poster Image
Intriguing but melodramatic real-life mystery lacks nuance.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There are some low key messages about staying true to yourself and your ideals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There's room for growth, but Fauna doesn't really have any discernable positive or negative characteristics, while Singletary may eventually start making selfless choices.

Violence

One character gets beat up pretty badly, there are physical threats made, and some implied race-related violence.

Sex

Talk of underage sex and an unwanted pregnancy.

Language

"A--hole," "s--t," and the "n-word" are frequent.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink and smoke, and there are depictions of alcohol abuse.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Am the Night is a suspense drama about a young light-skinned black woman raised during segregation. Starring Chris Pine and India Eisley, the story begins in post-segregation Nevada, when Fauna Hodel discovers she is adopted and decides to search for her birth parents. Though it takes awhile to reveal the connection, the woman becomes involved with an investigation into the Black Dahlia case, a brutal murder in the 1940s that remains unsolved. Though the story revolves around a killing, the show is restrained in its depictions of violence, though threats and implied violence are frequent. Alcohol abuse and racism are addressed, and the "n-word" is used.

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What's the story?

In the late 1960s, Fauna Hodel (India Eisley) discovers that she was adopted and decides to track down her real parents in I AM THE NIGHT. She makes contact with her biological grandfather, the mysterious George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), and travels to meet with him in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, tabloid reporter Jay Singletary (Chris Pine) is roused from his unsatisfying day-to-day life after receiving an anonymous tip that the same George Hodel may be connected with the notorious Black Dahlia slaying of 1947.  

Is it any good?

Despite an intriguing premise and some highly-skilled directors -- including Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), this series feels underdeveloped, and maybe even more suited to a shorter movie than a longer show. It drags its heels in setting up the premise, spending too much time characterizing its protagonist, Fauna, as a martyr. She seems to lack discernable positive or negative traits, but her tragic history is overexplored: mistreatment by her peers, her employers, and, in a series of long, indulgent scenes, her alcoholic adoptive mother. The complex story, which includes both true crime and nuanced depictions of race and racism, needed a strong eye for detail, and unfortunately I Am the Night doesn't quite get there.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the time period when I Am the Night takes place. What was going on in America at the time? In Nevada, where India grows up? In California?

  • How did segregation and post-segregation affect India's upbringing? How does being a light-skinned black woman affect her?

  • What does the main character think journalism should be? Does he act in accordance with those beliefs? How do you define journalism?

TV details

For kids who love suspense

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