It Gets Better

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
It Gets Better TV Poster Image
Honest accounts of LGBTQ life inspire hope for teens.

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Parents' guide to what's in this tv show.

Positive messages

Tolerance, compassion, empathy, and respect are the documentary's predominant themes. The personal accounts and words of encouragement can touch anyone who's been the subject of bullying for being different. Messages of hope remind teens that they aren't alone and that their experiences in high school don't have to determine the course of their lives. There's also an underlying suicide prevention theme.

Positive role models & representations

Mentors and supporters offer strong words of hope, reminding teens that they're not alone in their struggles and encouraging them to look to the future rather than dwelling on the difficulties of the present.

Violence

Some mention of suicide and physical bullying.

Sex

Some kissing and affection, as well as references to sexuality and promiscuity.

Language

"F--k" is bleeped; "suck" and "hell" are audible.

Consumerism

Many plugs for the documentary's website.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that It Gets Better is a TV special based on the It Gets Better Project, an Internet movement designed to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth struggling for acceptance among their peers and families. The participants talk frankly about their feelings about being gay or transgender, their thoughts on society's view of their lifestyle, and the incidence of self-harm and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth. Video messages from mentors and supporters offer encouragement to teens, reminding them that there's hope in the future if they're true to who they are. Although the content is geared toward LGBTQ youth, the documentary's positive messages about self-respect and perseverance could inspire anyone who's felt the sting of bullying or harassment. Viewers will see some kissing and affection between same-sex or transgendered couples and hear some bleeped cursing, as well as words like "suck" and "hell."

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What's the story?

IT GETS BETTER is a TV special/documentary inspired by the It Gets Better Project. The film follows the stories of three real-life subjects who are at unique impasses related to their identities as gay or transgender people. There's Greg, a teen who's tired of hiding his sexual orientation and wants to come out to his friends and family. Vanessa is comfortable being a lesbian, but she still struggles to get her mom to accept her girlfriend, and Aydian worries that being transgender will create legal snags as he plans to marry his girlfriend. The show is anchored by the It Gets Better Project's co-creator, Dan Savage, and his partner, Terry Miller, who share words of wisdom from their own experiences in between story segments and video messages from project supporters like Margaret Cho and Chaz Bono.

Is it any good?

This documentary centers on the concerns of the LGBTQ culture specifically, but its overall message is likely to touch any teen or young adult who's been harassed for any reason. What began as one testimonial of hope in a YouTube video has evolved into a worldwide movement, thanks to Savage and tens of thousands of LGBTQ mentors and supporters who've added their own advice to the project's website to give hope to teens struggling to come to terms with who they are. It Gets Better expands on the website's format by giving viewers a more thorough glimpse into the lives of three people offering to share their stories about the fallout of being gay, lesbian, or transgender in today's society. It's an emotional journey that encourages viewers to contemplate the human impact of some tough issues.

First-person testimonials about overcoming difficulties with peers can resonate for any number of reasons, so this shouldn't be thought of as targeting one group of viewers. The participants' empowering messages could just as easily impact straight teens coping with their own insecurities as it could someone who's gay. In the end, these honest accounts are likely to raise thoughtful discussion points between parents and mature teens about topics like diversity, relationships, and the experience of gay people in today's society.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages in It Gets Better. Is it difficult to relate to people who are different from you? Why is it important to try? How can diversity make a group stronger?

  • Parents and teens can also talk about bullying. Have you ever witnessed or been a part of bullying? How does it feel to be on the receiving end? What are some ways you can stand up for yourself or others against this kind of treatment? 

  • Teens: How has the Internet changed how we find and share information? What are some of the benefits of our ability to connect with people in this manner? Is it easier to say or do things online than it is in person because of your anonymity? Is this always a good thing?

  • How does It Gets Better promote compassion and empathy? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

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