A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Superhero dramas often contain a simplistic "crime doesn't pay" message, but this complicated drama about abuse and its affects isn't as simple, or as positive, since its downtrodden characters frequently don't triumph.
Positive Role Models
Henry has made mistakes -- stealing, vandalism, she's surly to her teachers and parents. Yet her inner nobility leads her to protect those she can, and her intentions are usually good or at least understandable. She has a combative relationship with stepsister Jenna, but they're there for each other when the chips are down.
Violence & Scariness
An act of sexual violence in the show's pilot is too much for younger viewers: after some consensual kissing, a teen boy forces his hand into a teen girl's pants (no nudity) while she begs him, crying, to "get off" and "stop." He tells her he feels her arousal and won't stop until a violent event interrupts them. Viewers can expect other violence that's non-sexual: two men punch each other viciously in a supernatural fist-fight, a man forces a teen girl into the trunk of his car and drives off with her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
High school girls gossip about a boy who "hooked up" with a classmate; a man's nude backside is visible as he gets in the shower.
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Cursing and language includes "ass," "s--t," "f--king," "a--hole," "f--k," "sluts," "goddammit," "p---y."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A main character frequently smokes something (It's unclear if it's marijuana or cigarettes), including in her room at home and in a school bathroom, blowing smoke out the window. Two high school students smoke a joint that one of the students keeps in his car's glove compartment. They smoke in a car, and the driver is presumably going to drive after smoking (though he's prevented from doing so by a unrelated interruption).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Impulse is a drama about a young woman who finds she has supernatural powers after a sexual assault. This assault is pictured in the show's first episode: two teens in a car kiss and then the boy forces his hand down the girl's pants as she cries and screams for him to stop. A violent occurrence forces him to stop, and the effects of the assault are realistically experienced by its victim throughout the course of the series. A main character smokes frequently, though it's unclear whether she's smoking cigarettes or marijuana. A man's naked rear is visible as he gets into a shower. Language includes "ass," "s--t," "a--hole," "f--k," "goddammit," and "p---y."
Is It Any Good?
Anchored by sensitive lead performances, this oddball series is an interesting and dark character study wrapped in superhero-drama packaging. Young people coming into their (supernatural) power is a classic superhero plot, of course -- you need look no further than shows like Flash or Smallville, or more modern entries like Runaways or Marvel's Cloak & Dagger to find super powers used as a metaphor for puberty. But though Henry discovers her power to teleport in Impulse's very first episode, it takes a lot longer for her to figure out just how she pulls off the trick. In the meantime, drama is milked from more typical teen-angst plotlines: what it's like to be the new girl in town, the pitfalls of building (step) family relationships, the pain of being ignored and overlooked -- except by people who want to do something bad to you.
A slightly ludicrous plotline involving Henry's connection with a Mennonite-dominated opioid empire gives this sad-eyed girl yet another reason to feel conflicted, and intense, natural Hasson is great at playing all the colors of her misery. If only the discovery of her powers lent the same bit of joy that we see in other dramas about fledgling heroes, a Peter-Parker-swinging-through-the-skyscrapers scene where all the slings and arrows of her life became fuel for an exultant release. Hasson is terrific, but her ever-present dark cloud, and even the cool blue tone of the show's cinematography adds up to kind of a bummer. It's not that Impulse isn't good. It's that it's not a lot of fun to watch.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.