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Locked Up Abroad
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series is about the brutality of foreign prisons, most of them in the Third World. While episodes occasionally involve crimes like kidnapping, the majority involve someone involved in selling or smuggling drugs. Re-enactments include some threats of violence, but nothing graphic is shown. Prisoners are sometimes stripped naked, but it's not sexual, and nothing too sensitive is visible.
What's the story?
LOCKED UP ABROAD tells the stories of real-life tourists who get arrested in foreign lands and thrown in jail. Sometimes they're innocent, as in one case in which a man was unknowingly traveling with a friend who was carrying drugs. But most of the "victims" end up behind bars because they were doing something criminal, and viewers see the intense moments they spend in captivity, as well as their attempts to gain freedom.
Is it any good?
Locked Up Abroad does have several things going for it. The production values are good, and the stories are told in the voices of the people immediately involved, which gives viewers a personal connection to the stories. The re-enactments are eerily close to the original photography and video taken at the time of imprisonment. And it's certainly eye opening to witness the cruelty and miscarriage of
justice that occurs in some of these place.
But because there's no mention of any intervention from anybody's embassy, the whole thing smacks of sensationalism. And the show never mentions the many documented cases of
similar experiences happening to foreign nationals here in the United States. While teens may be interested to see what happens when you smuggle drugs in a place like Bangladesh (and it might even scare them out of ever trying anything similar!), they also need to understand that these experiences aren't a complete picture of what life is like in a foreign country. Bottom line: It's riveting TV, but it doesn't give the best or most accurate picture of other cultures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the use of re-enactments to tell a true story. Sometimes it's hard to tell the re-enacted story from the video footage of the arrest; in that case, what purpose do the re-enactments serve? Also, does this show encourage fear about other countries? The show doesn't mention the millions of tourists who don't get into trouble in these places. Would you think twice about visiting some of these countries because of what you see here?