A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Courage and perseverance are demonstrated strongly by stories that emphasize the lengths to which people are willing to go to secure life, liberty, and happiness. These based-on-true stories show the systemic reasons immigrants struggle to succeed, as well as the integrity they must have in order to thrive.
Positive Role Models
Characters are complicated and fully formed individuals: Marisol gets in trouble at school, yet fights hard to advance in the sport of squash; Kubir tirelessly studies words in the dictionary his dad got when he first came to America but sometimes wants to blow off steam with a big stupid party just like his friends. Families are generally close and supportive, and though the things they do when they spend time together vary, the bonds between them don't.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is rare, but there are some scenes with uncomfortable conflicts such as one in "The Jaguar" when Marisol slaps a soda out of another girl's hands for mocking her brother.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual content varies from episode to episode; in some there's almost none at all save rather obscure references to dating and body parts ("I saw a boy changing for gym who might be precocious," says Kubir in episode 1), in others, sexuality is the backbone of the drama, as in "The Son," in which a gay Syrian man searches for a place he can express his sexual identity without fear of persecution.
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Cursing is infrequent but expect "a--hole," "s--t," and "bulls--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As with other content concerns, amount of drug and alcohol use varies with episode. In one, what looks like teens and 20-somethings throw big loud party in hotel room with guests smoking joints and cigarettes, guzzling beer and liquor.
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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.
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.
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