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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Little America is an anthology series based on true immigrant stories that originally ran in Epic Magazine. Mature content varies by episode, and some are more mature than others, like "The Son," which is about a gay Syrian man who's escaping the very real dangers of being homosexual in his homeland. All of the episodes are sympathetic to their subjects. They're presented as fully realized characters with complicated lives who work very hard to survive (and sometimes thrive) and demonstrate the highest levels of perseverance, integrity, and courage while doing so. In at least one episode, characters smoke cigarettes and pot and guzzle liquor and beer at a party. In another, a girl slaps a drink out of a classmate's hand in revenge for the classmate teasing her brother. Cursing isn't frequent, but "a--hole," "s--t," and "bulls--t" are heard. Episodes don't focus on politics or current news, but they do expose the systemic problems that can cause immigrant families to struggle.
What's the story?
Based on the series of true stories of the same name that ran in Epic Magazine, LITTLE AMERICA is an anthology series that tells the story of a different immigrant family or individual on each episode. Tackled tales range from a 12-year-old Indian American boy forced to run his parents' Utah hotel alone after they're deported, to a Nigerian exchange student in Oklahoma who sets his sights on becoming a cowboy. LITTLE AMERICA is executive-produced by a team that includes Master of None co-creator Alan Yang and The Big Sick's Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
Is it any good?
More like a series of achingly beautiful short films on a theme than a TV show, this unusual gem is at its best when focusing on the little pains and joys in its subjects' lives. The way that Kubir runs out to greet the FedEx man in a homemade superhero mask; the mingled empathy and shame Marisol feels when the city bus drops her big brother off to wait for work with other day laborers on a street corner -- these feel like deeply authentic, lived experiences because of course they are, but also because the directors are gifted at communicating the humanity of the inspired-by-real-people characters they're portraying.
A different writer (or sometimes a team) and director helms each episode of Little America, and the people behind the cameras are as multicultural as the immigrants in front, and it shows. Iwegbuna, Kubir, Marisol, and the other immigrants in these stories are imperfect people: They can be arrogant, impatient, short-tempered. But they're also people with families they have loving relationships with, complicated immeasurably by the specifics of immigration law and how they arrived in this country. These characters' deep and relatable longing for stability and security in America comes through clearly, as does how hard they work to get it: Watching Marisol's mom load up her car pre-dawn with the vacuums and mops she'll need when cleaning houses all day, we understand exactly how much it's costing this family to remain where they are, forget about getting ahead. By making us feel the weight of these stories and care about the people in them, Little America shines.
Talk to your kids about ...
The stories on Little America are based on real-life experiences. Does that make what's depicted on the series feel more authentic? How? Does it matter?
Television and social critics talk about the importance of representation, that people see stories they relate to on-screen and in other media. Does Little America give representation to types of people and stories you haven't seen before? Is that important? Why or why not?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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