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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 Side Effects is a Web series that features a teenager suffering from musical hallucinations as a result of prescribed medication. It contains some edgy content (innuendo, underage drinking), arguing, and some iffy language ("bitch," "crap," "ass"). Family is a major theme, as are death, child abandonment, depression, and bullying. Popular songs adapted from artists such as Pink and Katy Perry are featured.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The online series SIDE EFFECTS features a group of siblings trying to cope with whatever life throws at them. After the death of their mother and being abandoned by their father, Whitney (Meg DeLacy) is prescribed medication meant to help her endure the loss of her parents, her home life, and the constant bullying she faces at school. As she watches her siblings Lexi (Lulu Antariksa), Sam (Cade Canon Ball), and Jason (Finn Roberts) fall apart alongside her despite the best efforts of eldest brother and former medical student Keith (Chester See), her life becomes a musical fantasy thanks to hallucinations caused by the medication's side effects. Life isn't easy, but Whitney is trying to get through it one song at a time.
Is it any good?
The teen-oriented series, which runs on YouTube and led to a television movie, offers a quirky, edgy story that combines the sibling angst of the 1990's hit Party of Five with Glee-like musical numbers. Rounding out the family-focused story are plot lines driven by the presence of friends such as Zac (Keli Price) and Whitney's loyal friend Susan (Lia Marie Johnson).
The show's premise, which attributes the musical numbers to medicine-induced hallucinations, is socially irresponsible -- especially when you consider the audience. But it's fun and colorful, and the adaptation of popular songs throughout the series makes it too easy to look past this. No doubt teen-musical fans will enjoy watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between TV series and Web series. What are some of the benefits of producing an online series vs. a regular TV series? What about the risks? What kind of content can be shown on a Web series that can’t be shown on TV?
YouTube has a lot of content for all ages. How can kids be protected from things that are available online but that they shouldn't really be watching? What are some of the good things that come from using YouTube and other social media?
For kids who love musical TV
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.