MTV Juvies TV Poster Image

MTV Juvies



Teens get scared straight in MTV reality doc.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Teens' bad behavior gets them locked up, but they usually seem to learn their lesson. Disrespectful behavior has immediate consequences.


Depends on the episode. Discussion of teens' crimes -- including auto theft, running away, drunk driving, assault with a knife.

Not applicable

Not much bad language, though the occasional "hell" or "damn" can pop up.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some discussion of drug and/or alcohol use in conjunction with the teens' offenses. Dramatizations often depict drugs, smoking, and/or drinking, though briefly.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary-style reality show follows teens as they enter the juvenile justice system. Frank discussion of their crimes -- including auto theft, running away, drunk driving, assault with a knife, and more -- occurs. Some dramatizations include beer bottles, marijuana, and other elements of the teens' crimes. All situations are sad, and certain moments are particularly painful to watch -- like when a teen's mother rejects her daughter, forcing her into foster care.

What's the story?

The MTV-produced documentary series JUVIES follows teens as they enter juvenile detention, appear before the judge, and either get released ... or stay behind bars. Filmed at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Complex in Indiana, the show offers a fascinating, thought-provoking glimpse into the lives of young people dealing with family troubles, drugs, and emotional problems. Inside the detention center, life is scary at first, but most of the profiled teens eventually find it bearable. For example, Cordell, 17, arrested for stealing a car, initially rejects his fellow inmates' friendly overtures, thinking they're all delinquents. But he ultimately realizes that his prejudice is unfounded when he hears others' stories and gains compassion for their situations. The teens' stories are often accompanied by dramatic reenactments of their alleged activities, complete with soundtracks (which feel out of place compared with the stark reality of the rest of the show).

Is it any good?


The show's harsh details are bound to make a lasting impression. For example, during the intake process, Cordell must strip down in front of a staffer and rub Lysol on his hair to kill any potential bugs that might be living on his body. To someone like him -- a good student who's active in extracurriculars and hopes to be a lawyer someday -- the process is terribly humiliating.

While part of Juvies' appeal is its voyeuristic payoff, teen viewers will probably empathize with the inmates enough to think twice about doing anything that could make them wind up in the TV teens' place.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the teens on the show. What are the underlying reasons that they ended up in juvenile hall? Do they deserve to be locked up? What offenses should result in a teen going to prison? Can family members ever imagine being in prison? What would be the worst part of being locked up? What is this show trying to accomplish?

TV details

Premiere date:February 1, 2007
Cast:Mary Beth Bonaventura
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bysilly_samsters February 11, 2009


This show is really good because it shows if you get into trouble you might just get sent to juvie and it shows that it is not fun at all getting sent there and what happens when you do go there!
Adult Written bysunni47 April 9, 2008

Typical MTV MOrals..none

I have never in all my years found anything good about MTV since 1999. Maybe if they edit it abit and even if they blip out the word, ANYONE can read the words on their lips, we aren't morons...To me, MTV..isn't uplifting for the youth so why subject them to it or let it in your home?
Educator and Parent of a 14 and 15 year old Written byLiz Perle April 9, 2008


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