Jesse James Is a Dead Man

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Jesse James Is a Dead Man TV Poster Image
Stunt show has some intelligence amid spills and thrills.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

James seems to love thrills and danger, and he's shown here engaged in non-stop stunts. That said, despite the danger, he stresses the importance of wearing proper protective gear.

Violence

Plenty of dangerous stunts. James seems willing to take on just about any kind of vehicle, including super-fast motorbikes, jet fighters, off-road race cars, and more. The show includes a standard disclaimer warning viewers not to try to emulate his actions.

Sex
Language

Some mild swearing, including “ass,” and some bleeped words.

Consumerism

The show heavily promotes James’ custom motorcycle business, West Coast Choppers, and the Jesse James brand. Racetracks and other venues are mentioned by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality show follows adrenaline junkie Jesse James through one risky stunt after another. Many of the speedy vehicles he likes can be hazardous, from an off-road dune buggy to a jet fighter to a super-fast nitro-bike. He often discusses safety precautions and takes pains to show viewers that he's wearing the proper protective gear, but it's clear that many of these activities could be quite dangerous if anything goes wrong -- or if anyone tried to copy them at home. That said, there's no drugs or sex (and only a little swearing) -- just non-stop action.

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What's the story?

Motorcycle expert and all-around daredevil Jesse James takes on a variety of dangerous thrills in this reality series -- from riding a super-fast motorbike powered by highly explosive fuel to participating in the grueling off-road Baja 500 race. Some of these challenges are more difficult than others, but all have the potential to go quite wrong. And if the worst occurs, as the narrator likes to mention, JESSE JAMES IS A DEAD MAN. The constant themes here are action and danger, with James taking on one hazardous challenge after another. \"If someone tells me something is hard or crazy or impossible,\" James says, \"that's the thing I want to do.\"

Is it any good?

Though James is an experienced driver and veteran thrill-seeker, most of these activities are new to him and require some specialized skills. To prepare for the main event, he approaches his stunts with a well-developed action plan. To get ready for the powerful acceleration on the speedy nitro bike, for example, he goes for a spin in a jet fighter ... and then he lets himself be set aflame, just in case he needs to know what it's like to be covered in burning fuel.

Sure, a lot of this is for show, but it also reveals some intelligence. The series uses computer graphics to carefully explain what's going on, from the physics involved in a multiple G-force acceleration to the mechanical failure that can make a high-performance engine blow up. Overall the show is definitely more thoughtful than some stunt spectacular shows; it would work just as well on the "how does it work?" Discovery Channel as it does on all-action testosterone network Spike.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about thrills. Why does James pursue so many dangerous activities? Do you think these stunts look like fun? Why do so many people enjoy courting danger? Do you think shows like this glamorize danger? Do you think any viewers will be tempted to try to copy these risky activities? What's the impact of seeing this kind of behavior on TV?

TV details

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