Inside: Secret America
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Inside: Secret America is an investigative undercover docuseries that touches on some mature topics, like the sex trade, the illegal drug trade, and animal cruelty. The series contains images of bloody murder scenes and animals being slaughtered, and conversations about violent crimes, sex acts, etc., but they are offered in an investigative context. The featured journalists sometimes engage in illegal activities (like buying unlicensed guns) as part of their research. It has some strong vocab, too.
What's the story?
The documentary series INSIDE: SECRET AMERICA features award-winning journalists Mariana van Zeller and Darren Foster as they go undercover to infiltrate some of the nation's most controversial underground subcultures. The investigative pair assumes different identities and works with experts, including law enforcement, private detectives, cooperative criminals, and victims of crimes, to be able to gather information and find ways to gain access to clandestine industries like sex slavery, illegal firearm sales, and synthetic drug production. They use a variety of hidden camera technology and advanced surveillance techniques to document their efforts. It's dangerous work, and by doing it they often put their lives at risk. But what they reveal shows how these subcultures operate, and illustrates the larger impact they have on America, and in some cases, the greater world.
Is it any good?
Inside: Secret America offers an interesting look at a variety of industries that have become part of a covert subculture as a result of laws and cultural factors that impact the way people think about their activities. It also shows some of the many ways investigative journalists go about researching their stories, and the process by which they go undercover to find information that wouldn't be available to them any other way.
The topics are interesting, and the voyeuristic nature of the work adds to the series' overall entertainment value. But some of the episodes address issues that have already been featured on shows like Frontline and 60 Minutes, and explored at-length by TV journalists like Lisa Ling. The result is a docuseries that explores things that aren't that secret, and that is as much about the reporters as it is about the subjects they are reporting on.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about investigative journalism. What are some of the ways that journalists are able to find out details about specific issues and/or events? Why are some reporters willing to put themselves in harms way to get it? Is it ethical for journalists to engage in illegal activities in order to get this information?
Should journalists ever be part of the story they are reporting about? Why or why not?