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Jinn

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Jinn TV Poster Image
Soapy supernatural drama has scares, some teen bullying.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The mythology of this series is quirky and silly but has some basis in historical legends, which viewers may want to investigate after watching. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mira is a character who fights for autonomy in a male-dominated society, and Yassin and Hassan are both quirky characters that are not sexist, or violent like some of the other male characters. Iffy messages about gender are common: Yassin's dad tells his mom "You'll stay at home working for me," and Nasser tells his friends that after he has sex with mira his friends will be asking for "lessons how to be a man." A character says about a woman: "She's so hot when she's angry." 

Violence

Violence is more intense than viewers might expect in a teen drama, such as when a character is being bullied and his bully says he'd like to see him buried at the spot they're in, then pees on him after he falls in a pit (we see him unzipping his pants and liquid splashing onto the victim's shirt). In another scene, a student slashes his own throat with seeping blood, in another, a character falls to the ground then is seen with blood pooled around his head, whereupon he spits up blood and dies. A male character tells a female one during an argument "Don't think I won't hit you -- I'll bash your little head in." 

Sex

Talk of romance and dating is common, with most characters paired off with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or given a love interest or secret crush. Students also talk about sex in terms that may disturb Western viewers, such as when a boy taunts his friends that they'll want him to teach them "how to be a man" after he has sex with his girlfriend. While kissing, a boy tries to pull up a girl's shirt; she says "Slow down" and he asks "Why?" repeatedly in protest before he stops, then says he doesn't "see the point" of the relationship (presumably because she wouldn't have sex with him). A character makes a vulgar joke about wild goats having an interest in having sex with campers. 

Language

Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--king," "damn," "s--t," "hell," "piss," characters call each other "a--hole," "motherf--ker," "prick" and "dumbass." Language is sometimes different in the audio and subtitled versions of the show's dialogue, like in a scene in which a character is called a "f--ker" in the audio and a "c--t" in the subtitles. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The legal drinking age in Jordan is 18, but presumably not all of the teen characters in Jinn have reached that age yet they drink routinely at parties, and many say things like "We came to get drunk" and "Let's get wasted." They also blame bad decisions and aggression on drinking. Teens talk about smoking hash, and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes that may contain hash. 

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jinn is an Arabic-language teen drama about a group of high school students in Jordan who run afoul of ancient supernatural spirits. Mature content is connected with violence and drinking -- an incident of bullying ends with the bully peeing on the victim and saying he'd like him to be "buried" nearby. In other scenes, a student slashes his own throat and another falls to the ground and dies with blood pooling around his head. Students drink heavily at parties, saying they want to get "drunk" and "wasted," and blaming aggressive behavior on drinking. They also smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, which may contain hash (one student offers to give another free hash in payback for a favor). Gender representations are mixed: a female character fights for independence and freedom in a male-dominated society, but boys and men taunt each other about what it means to be a man, connecting masculinity with sex and violence. In one scene, a boy complains and keeps groping a girl after being told to stop (he eventually does); and most characters have boyfriends, girlfriends, or crushes. Expect kissing and references to sex. Language is also frequent: "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," and more. As outrageous as the series' mythology is, it may encourage viewers to learn more about Jordanian and Middle Eastern/Arabic culture and legends. 

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What's the story?

After a school trip to the ancient ruins of Petra goes tragically awry, the students at Seven Hills Academy start suffering a strange series of calamities that make some wonder if a vengeful JINN has escaped its supernatural bonds. Meanwhile, the magical happenings worsen the rifts already in place amongst the cliques at school. Popular Mira (Salma Malhas) hears strange whispery voices and starts seeing odd things, causing conflict with her boyfriend Nasser (Mohammad Nizar) and BFF Layla (Ban Halaweh). Meanwhile, quiet, bullied Yassin (Sultan Alkhai) is victimized by cruel Tarek (Abdelrazzaq Jarkas), and receives unexpected comfort from Vera (Aysha Shahaltough). And Layla's nerdy cousin Hassan (Zaid Zoubi) sees the signs of the jinn at work, though no one will believe his warnings. 

Is it any good?

Cool mythology makes this soapy import feel a like a Arabic-language Riverdale, but the turned-up-a-notch cruelty and regressive thinking around gender may make some parents think twice. Bullies are common in teen dramas -- how else are you going to show the audience who's the lovable underdog they should root for? But it's hard to imagine a bully so malicious that he pees on his rival after he's fallen into a pit, as the brutish Tarek does to lanky, sensitive Yassin in Jinn's first episode. Of course, viewers are aware that select members of the cast will be victims of the jinn, so it makes sense that they're set up as deserving a comeuppance.

The audience might additionally get nervous hearing members of the cast voice old-school ideas about masculinity. When one character tells his vicious stepfather not to talk disrespectfully to his mother, the stepdad invades his space, daring him to fight -- is he a man or isn't he? Another character gossips to his friends about how he's going to have sex with his girlfriend -- tomorrow they'll be asking him for "lessons on how to be a man." That same character is sulky when the girlfriend asks him to "slow down" as they make out, demanding "Why?" The answer -- because she said so -- is perfect, and the female character who gives it also gives a positive representation of a girl who refuses to be a puppet for the controlling males around her. Her arc reads a lot better than some of her male classmate's, so if parents allow teens to watch they may want to point out which characters have power and agency so that the iffy gender politics don't fly under the cover of the supernatural mystery elements of the story. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dysfunctional relationships and why writers so often turn to them for good material, both for drama and comedy. What is it about the relationships in Jinn that's compelling? Do you find the supernatural aspects of the show, or the interpersonal drama more compelling? 

  • Families can also talk about the differences between shows produced for U.S. audiences vs. those produced for audiences from other countries. Why would a show that worked very well for U.S. audiences not appeal to audiences from other countries (and vice versa)? Is language a barrier? Does dubbing and subtitling change that?

  • What makes a supernatural series like Jinn appealing? Is it the sense of foreboding or confusion it creates? The world it has built? The mythology? Do you think the violent imagery is necessary? Why or why not?

  • Why is it important that the members of Jinn's cast are young? How would this story change if they were older characters? What's interesting or special about youth, and why is it so often the center of drama? What types of stories make sense for young characters and not older ones? 

TV details

For kids who love teen TV

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