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 Made in Jersey is a legal drama that deals with violent crimes (and shows bloody images of victims) but also tries to challeng common stereotypes about women, people from New Jersey, and blue-collar communities. Words like "hell" and "damn" are sometimes used, and drinking (beer, wine, cocktails) is occasionally visible. In rare scenes, characters are seen in their underwear. Made in Jersey is milder than some procedural dramas, but it still has enough mature content to make it an iffy choice for older tweens and young teens.
What's the story?
MADE IN JERSEY follows Martina Garetti (Janet Montgomery), a bold and tenacious lawyer who uses her ingenuity and blue-collar insight to win cases. The former attorney for the Trenton New Jersey District Attorney's office now finds herself as a junior associate at Stark & Rowan, a prestigious and competitive Manhattan law firm known for its Ivy League-educated and non-Jersey-accented attorneys. While some of Martina's colleagues find it hard to take her seriously, her tenacious personality impresses a few of the firm's senior members, including Nolan Adams (Kristoffer Polaha) and the firm's founder, Donovan Stark (Kyle MacLachlan). Now being asked to chair cases, Martina relies on her street smarts and the help of her administrative assistant, Cyndi Vega (Toni Trucks), and the firm's investigator, River Brody (Felix Solis), to help uncover details about her clients' cases that most people overlook. It's pretty intimidating, but Martina knows that she has her big Italian family -- including mom Darlene (Donna Murphy) and sister Bonnie (Erin Cummings) -- to support her every step of the way.
Is it any good?
Made in Jersey seeks to dispel many existing stereotypes surrounding folks from New Jersey -- cemented by shows like Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey -- by presenting a likable character with a blue-collar background who's educated, professional, and can hold her own in a white-collar world without completely letting go of her roots. Unfortunately, there are moments where common generalizations about working class individuals, Italian-Americans, and people in New Jersey are relied on in order to make its point. It's these moments in particular that also attempt to add some humor to the show.
Fans of legal procedurals might find Made in Jersey's cases interesting, but many of the storylines become endlessly complicated thanks to Martina's relentless digging for details, which are then glossed over to keep the show's momentum going. Meanwhile, the show's focus on her family isn't extensive enough to truly understand their culture or the emotional connection she has with them. The result is a show with good intentions but limited drama. Nonetheless, viewers will be able to appreciate the positive messages that Made in Jersey sends about strong women who have to work a little harder to prove that regardless of where they come from, they're just as smart, savvy, and capable as everyone else.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stereotypes. What role does the media have in creating and perpetuating them? How can we identify and challenge them? Do you think fictional TV shows like this one are an effective way of countering mainstream stereotypes?
Why is the fish-out-of-water storyline so popular? Can you think of other shows or movies that uses this narrative?
Themes & Topics
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