A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The movie doesn't sugarcoat the realities of drug use. As Amanda's dependence escalates, viewers see both the highs and lows of her addiction, affecting her relationships, judgment, and sense of right and wrong. It's a frightening transformation, but there's a valuable and realistic lesson in it. Viewers also see her come to embrace the strength of family and the devotion of true friends as the full implications of addiction come to light.
Positive Role Models
Amanda's parents overlook signs of addiction that seem obvious to viewers, but otherwise they're devoted to their kids. She's a prime example of the risks of drug use, as she's not a stereotypical user and she doesn't set out to become an addict, yet she still succumbs to peer pressure and the substance's influence.
Violence & Scariness
A main character dies from an overdose, and she's shown unresponsive and foaming at the mouth. Some blood and bruises after teens shoot up.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss and make out. In one scene, a couple undresses in bed (the guy is shirtless, the girl is in a bra) and verbally agree to have sex, but nothing else is shown. It's implied that a teen has performed sexual favors for a dealer to barter for drugs.
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"S--t," "damn," "goddamn," "bitch," and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens do drugs by taking pills, snorting, smoking, and shooting up. The images don't gloss over either the highs they get from using or the lows that come during withdrawals. That said, the movie's intent is to show the dangers of addiction, and the teens learn that their actions have dire consequences.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Perfect High is an intense story about teen drug addiction that's based on real-life events. The message is valuable for both teens and their parents, but it's not a relaxing journey through a girl's downward spiral from painkiller abuse to heroin use. You'll see teens popping pills, smoking, snorting, and shooting up on their own and at "pharm" parties, all while they deceive their families and steal to fund their habit. Their health suffers, and a main character eventually dies from an overdose. That said, there are many scenes that show them riding drug-induced highs, so it's vital that your teens grasp the story's cautionary message as well. A bedroom scene shows Amanda in a bra giving consent for sex, but nothing beyond making out is shown. Expect a fair amount of strong language ("bitch," "s--t," "goddamn," and so on) as well.
Is It Any Good?
Perfect High is a no-nonsense drama that's brutally honest about the implications of drug use. Thorne delivers a sincere performance as Amanda, a high-achieving, all-around great teen whose world is turned upside down when she finds her spot on the dance team threatened because of an injury. From parents' standpoint, it's helpful that the story is told from this point of view, since it reminds teens (and adults) that there is no such thing as a "typical" user and that pressures of many different kinds can contribute to addiction.
This insightful movie won't win any awards (Thorne's performance really is the acting highlight), but its message is a vital one for teens and their parents. Watching together allows you to discuss not only the most drastic consequences of Amanda's use but also the more subtle ones -- how her relationships suffer, how it impairs her judgment, and how it changes her self-image, for example. This movie gives an honest portrayal of Amanda's ups as well as her downs, so be sure to emphasize how each high is followed by an increasingly devastating low as you talk about this issue with your teens.
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.