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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 Outsiders is a dramatic series about the struggle for power and control in the remote Kentucky mountains of modern-day Appalachia; it also incorporates interpretations of Appalachian tradition and folklore. There's a lot of violence, ranging from beatings and shootings to bloody wounds and deaths. There's also plenty of cursing ("s--t"), sexual innuendo, and illegal behavior. Alcohol (especially moonshine) and drugs are prominently featured in some episodes, too. Older teens who like drama will be drawn to it, but it's not for younger viewers.
Captivating Story NOT for children, or anyone under 17
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What's the Story?
OUTSIDERS is a dramatic series about the struggle for power and control in the remote Kentucky mountains of modern-day Appalachia. It stars Joe Anderson as Asa Farrell, an estranged member of the wild Farrell Clan, a Scotch-Irish family that has lived off the grid and by their own rules for generations on Shay Mountain. But few are fully prepared to welcome him back, especially his brutish cousin "Big Foster" Farrell (David Morse), who is fighting to take over as the clan's Bren'in (king). Complicating things is Asa's feelings for former sweetheart and clan healer G'Winveer (Gillian Alexy), much to the chagrin of Li'l Foster (Ryan Hurst), Big Foster's slightly gentler adult son. Meanwhile, moonshiner cousin Hasil (Kyle Gallner) is stirring up trouble as he becomes more curious about the world down the mountain and interested in Sally-Ann (Christina Jackson), one of the few Afircan-American residents in the area. As the family contends with their internal problems, their isolated, self-governed way of life is severely threatened by state law enforcement, much to the consternation of local Deputy Sheriff Wade Houghton, Jr. (Thomas M. Wright), who understands the danger the Farrells pose and the values that guide them.
Is It Any Good?
This well-produced, intriguing series offers a dramatic narrative steeped in history native to Appalachia, a mining region full of stories of survival under difficult conditions. But the show is fictional and creates an extreme universe that is ruled by brutal (and often sexist) behavior and shrouded in mystical elements, some of which are actually drawn from other cultures. However, as wild as some of the characters are, they have very raw, honest feelings that range from curiosity and selfishness to a love of family and traditions so fierce they'll do what they can to protect them.
References to things such as the traditional Elizabethan-rooted Appalachian settler dialect, meeting rituals, and serious and secretive moonshine practices make the show colorfully entertaining at times. It's also hard not to acknowledge the corruption and greed of the "outsider," which in this case is the government-supported coal-mining industry. This doesn't hide the fact that it's a gritty and violent show, but it allows you to understand some of these acts within the context of evolving events. It's certainly compelling and will probably appeal to older viewers who like this kind of storytelling.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the history of Appalachia. How has its history of mining, poverty, and difficulty contributed to the region's folklore? What about its reputation? Do films and TV shows such as this one accurately portray the communities that live there? Or are they creating stereotypes to be easily understood or more entertaining?
How does the media traditionally portray communities that live outside the mainstream? Why are audiences interested in them?
- Premiere date: January 26, 2016
- Cast: Joe Anderson, David Morse, Kyle Gallner
- Network: WGN
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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