Society X with Laura Ling

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Society X with Laura Ling TV Poster Image
Edgy docuseries looks at disturbing underground trends.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series explores contemporary underground American subcultures -- including illegal ones -- and attempts to objectively reveal some of the trends and activities they're known for. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ling attempts to be objective but does hide her concerns about potentially dangerous behaviors such as drug use and abuse. Scientific and medical experts, law enforcement, and members of various subcultures weigh in on the various issues discussed.


Police raids and other violent moments, as well as video footage of people having seizures and violent delusions, are shown. 


Words such as "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped. 


Chevy trucks, iPhones, and some logos are occasionally visible in the background but aren't prominently featured. Internet sites used for underground or illegal activities, such as Silk Road, are shown and discussed. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Episodes sometimes focus on drugs: designer drugs (including synthetic marijuana), bath salts, and LSD. Experimentation with a variety of drugs and alcohol also is discussed; people are shown using drugs in a variety of ways, and the tone is fairly objective and doesn't always point out repercussions of illegal or dangerous behavior.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Society X with Lisa Ling explores underground fads and activities that are considered inappropriate or illegal in mainstream popular culture. It contains some strong images of people buying, using, and getting sick as a result of using drugs and other substances. Police raids and arrests are shown. There's some bleeped language and references to websites featuring illegal trade and activities. It's informative, but, thanks to it mature themes, it's best left for adults and older teens. 

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What's the story?

SOCIETY X WITH LAURA LING is an edgy documentary series that explores some of America's latest underground crazes and the people who participate in them. Hosted by investigative journalist Laura Ling, the series looks at a variety of subcultures, all of which engage in activities that are unique, potentially dangerous, and considered inappropriate by mainstream society. Through interviews with members of these groups, as well as with law enforcement and others who are touched by their activities, viewers get a chance to see what these outlier communities are up to and some of the consequences of their actions.

Is it any good?

From looking at college drug use to understanding the global proliferation of synthetic or designer drugs, Society X with Laura Ling offers a look into social trends that some argue fall outside of conventional and socially accepted popular culture. It also reveals how these fads are moving beyond the underground and affecting mainstream society. The price some people pay for participating in these activities, such as getting sick or arrested, also are highlighted. 

There's an attempt to be objective, but the dangers associated with some of the activities discussed here are clearly underscored thanks to some of the dramatic (and carefully selected) footage edited into the show. Meanwhile, each episode is too short to go into any real details about why these subcultures do what they do. But it will certainly open people's eyes about unique or disturbing fads that people of all ages get caught up in and what they might experience as a result. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the consequences of engaging in risky behaviors, even if they seem like common or popular activities. Do you think TV shows like this one are helpful in raising awareness about the dangers associated with them? Or do they glorify the perceived entertainment values of these activities?

  • Why do people agree to be interviewed for shows like this one, if they know that what they do is potentially dangerous or illegal?

  • Do you think Laura Ling should offer more opinion about some of these activities? Or is she being "objective"?

TV details

  • Premiere date: October 6, 2013
  • Cast: Laura Ling
  • Network: E!
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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