One Bad Choice

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
One Bad Choice TV Poster Image
Cautionary tales scare kids straight with dire consequences.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

None of the stories end positively, but the show makes every effort to show that bad choices beget negative consequences. The tone is ominous with an obvious purpose: to serve as a cautionary tale.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Every person featured on the show made poor decisions with life-altering consequences, but they're sharing their stories to prevent others from making the same mistakes.


Accidents, bloody injuries, and death. Some characters use weapons such as guns.


Skimpy clothing and flashes of lingerie. Sexual situations, but no simulated sex.


Audible words include "damn," "hell," and the like.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Stories involve underage drinking, drunk driving, and drug use that leads to serious consequences.

What parents need to know

Parents needs to know that One Bad Choice is designed to deter viewers -- particularly teens and 20somethings -- from making bad choices that could negatively affect their lives and the lives of those around them. The show uses a split format of real-life interviews and dramatic reenactments of actual events, so you'll see actors engaging in underage drinking, drunk driving, and drug use and committing a variety of crimes that lead to serious injuries with some blood -- and even death. (Some episodes contain sexual situations, but there's nothing graphic.) You'll also hear light cursing in the form of "hell" and "damn."

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What's the story?

Via real-life interviews and dramatic reenactments, ONE BAD CHOICE spotlights the stories of young people whose poor decisions -- from drunk-driving to burglary to murder -- lead to unimaginable consequences.

Is it any good?

"Dramatic reenactments" are rarely as dramatic as they claim to be, particularly in the realm of television that's aimed at younger viewers. The actors can be amateurish, the dialogue can be cheesy, and the tone can be downright stagy. But as it turns out, One Bad Choice isn't actually all that bad, and the acting, at least, is respectable -- at times even effectively chilling.

The episodes feel longer than they need to be, but the message rings loud and clear: Some choices are a matter of life and death. Of course, whether One Bad Choice will do what it sets out to do -- that is, discourage impressionable teens from making iffy choices by showing the real-life repercussions of poor decision-making -- is a much murkier question.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about One Bad Choice's use of dramatic reenactments. How do actors help set the tone and put the storyteller's words into context? Would the show be more or less effective without them?

  • Are real-life stories such as those reenacted on One Bad Choice a real deterrent to teens and 20somethings who might be struggling to make the right choices? To what degree are young people actually influenced by what they see on television?

  • Who is One Bad Choice's target audience? How can you tell?

TV details

  • Premiere date: February 25, 2015
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • Topics: Friendship, High School
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love real-life drama

Themes & Topics

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