My Generation

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
My Generation TV Poster Image
Contrived docu-fiction drama relies on stereotypes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show stresses that life rarely goes the way we plan and that most people experience life-altering moments of personal drama. The mood is somber more often than rosy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are trying to do the right thing, even if they don't always make the right choices. Most have some flaws, but they're of varying degrees of severity.

Violence

Violence plays out in the form of war footage (including some shooting), mild fistfights, and mention of a suicide.

Sex

Some scenes involve sexual innuendo or sexual situations and, in rare cases, blurred nudity. One character is pregnant, another got pregnant on prom night, and a third wants to be a father but finds out he's infertile.

Language

Infrequent bleeped swearing (mostly "f--k") and audibles like "bitch," "ass," "penis," and "balls."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking, and a few scenes take place in bars. One character is a bartender, and others drink to excess to blow off steam.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that part of this fictional documentary series plays out through high school flashbacks, but the majority of the action concerns adults living their lives in the present day. The main characters are in their late 20s and are grappling with a range of personal dramas, including pregnancy, infertility, unhappy marriages, and spouses who are off at war. There's also some bleeped swearing ("f--k") and sexual content, including rare flashes of blurred nudity, as well as some mild violence and social drinking.

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What's the story?

Borrowing its concept from a Swedish TV series, MY GENERATION is a fictional drama filmed as if it were a documentary. The premise is that, a decade after following nine diverse high school students through graduation in Austin, Texas, in 2000, the film crew returns to revisit the now-grown subjects and see what they're up to as adults. Characters include Rolly, "The Jock" (Mehcad Brooks); Jackie, "The Beauty Queen" (Jaime King); Steven, "The Over-Achiever" (Michael Stahl-David); Dawn, "The Punk" (Kelli Garner); Caroline, "The Wallflower" (Anne Son); Kenneth, "The Nerd" (Keir O'Donnell); Brenda, "The Brain" (Daniella Alonso); Anders, "The Rich Kid" (Julian Morris); and Falcon, "The Rock Star" (Sebastian Sozzi).

Is it any good?

Despite its documentary-inspired format, My Generation comes off as completely contrived and improbable rather than real. After all, relying on tiresome stereotypes like "The Jock" and "The Nerd" is bad enough -- as is expecting viewers to accept these obviously adult actors as high school teens via flashback.

But the fact that these characters grow up, intermingle, and all happen to have ties to some of the most critical moments in recent history (including the Enron scandal, the controversial election of George W. Bush, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the Iraq War) is the icing on a very poorly constructed cake. If this were a comedy, we might actually laugh, but since it's a drama, we're not supposed to.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's portrayal of high school stereotypes and whether labels like "jock," "nerd," "brain," etc., are still valid generalizations. Do today's high school students tend to lump each other into narrowly defined categories, or is it possible to be more than one "type"?

  • In terms of format, has there been another series like this one on American television? How does it compare to other shows filmed in a documentary style? Does applying the documentary format to a scripted drama work as well as it does for a comedy?

  • How realistic do the characters and the situations they find themselves in seem to you? Does the documentary format affect your expectations for realism?

TV details

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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