Off the Rez
By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Frank docu prompts questions about sports, race, and family.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Overall, the film suggests that hard work and talent lead to opportunity, and that making smart choices pays off. By focusing equally on adult characters who have lived longer and made more mistakes, it also clearly defines the consequences of bad decisions.
Positive Role Models
Although she makes mistakes and sometimes uses iffy language on the court, Shoni is generally a positive role model who sees her athleticism as an opportunity to make her family -- and her culture -- proud. And while it's true that her parents aren't perfect, they do have her best interests at heart because they don't want her to make the same mistakes they did.
Violence & Scariness
Some games involve violent play with pushing, shoving, tripping, etc.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Subtle discussion of premarital sex -- and its negative consequences.
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Bleeped words include "motherf--ker" and "s--t," with audible language like "pissed off" and "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief discussion of alcoholism. One of Shoni's uncles admits that alcohol played a major role in the mistakes he made in his life.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the bleeped language you'll hear (including "motherf--ker" and "s--t") mostly comes from the mouths of adults, but teens utter strong words a few times, too; there are also audible terms like "pissed off" and "ass." Subjects such as sex and drinking aren't overtly addressed, but premarital sex and alcoholism are shown to negatively impact and alter the course of some characters' lives. Violence only pops up on the court, where players sometimes trip, push, and elbow each other.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
Executive produced by Kelly Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, OFF THE REZ is a feature-length documentary following Native American basketball phenom Shoni Schimmel -- one of the most talented high school players in the country. With Shoni's undeniable talent on the court catching the eyes of college scouts, she leaves the Umatilla Indian Reservation behind and moves with her family to Portland, Oregon, where she plays ball with a suburban team (and for her mother, who's the team's new coach) and moves one step closer to a coveted college scholarship. But to Shoni and her passionate family, there's far more at stake than a free education.
Is It Any Good?
Liking sports or basketball isn't a prerequisite for appreciating this no-frills coming-of-age story about a seriously talented girl who applies equal seriousness to the task of making her family and culture proud. As it turns out, Shoni Schimmel's story is engaging enough, no matter where your interests lie.
Eschewing editing tricks that could arguably improve the pacing, filmmaker Jonathan Hock largely presents the action as it unfolds, resulting in a story that feels real -- and, at times, appropriately bleak. Because the truth is this: In spite of Shoni's bright prospects, the realities of her family's struggles, both off the rez and on, are a palpable obstacle to her ultimate success. The film also reveals the sobering fact that Native Americans still grapple not only with racism but also with its lingering effects on their own self-worth.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about racism in the context of Native American culture. Does it surprise you to learn that Native Americans still experience racism in today's world? What are the negative affects of racism? How do racism and stereotyping affect the way a culture views itself long-term?
Do their own past mistakes unduly influence how hard Shoni's parents push their daughter? Do her parents want her to succeed more than she does? At what point does familial support start to feel like pressure?
What are the negative consequences of premarital sex and alcoholism in the context of this film? What were Shoni's mother and father forced to give up when they got pregnant before they were married? How did alcohol affect the choices Shoni's cousin made about his future?
- Premiere date: April 26, 2011
- Network: TLC
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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