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Parents' Guide to


By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Sensitive, mature docu-series digs into a '90s scandal.

Lorena Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

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Taking a deep dive into a case that for most can be summed up in a mocking headline, this series emerges as a sensitive and fascinating historical document (that's far too mature for kids). The Bobbitt case fascinated the public, but interest quickly flagged once John took a tour of daytime talk shows and the Howard Stern radio show. He dutifully described the toll his wife's actions took on his life, starred in a couple of XXX movies, and faded out. Lorena, meanwhile, disappeared -- and few went looking for her. But a lingering question, summed up succinctly in this doc by one of the nurses who tended to a freshly wounded John, remained: Just what did John do to Lorena that spurred her to do something so extreme and horrible?

John was, of course, acquitted in court of rape charges. But as we meet the law enforcement officers, doctors, lawyers, and jurists who worked on his case, it becomes a lot harder to dismiss Lorena's accusations of rape and abuse -- particularly since it's fairly clear that even the professionals who helped John recover seem to regard his case as justice served (and darkly comic). That last point is perhaps the most disturbing part of this series, putting aside for the moment the multiple times images of John's actual severed penis is shown: its talking heads, particularly the male ones, smile, laugh, and joke about the incident during their interviews. Is it nervous laughter? Or do they believe on some level that John ultimately reaped what he'd sown? That question lingers as the series nimbly links the Bobbitt case to others: the Navy Tailhook sexual abuse scandal, the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings, the William Kennedy Smith rape trial. By putting the Bobbitts in context, this series makes something more out of a faded scandal, demonstrating that Lorena Bobbitt never received her justice -- like so many other women in history.

TV Details

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