Stateless

review by
Matt Cabral, Common Sense Media
Stateless [node:content-type] Poster Image
Challenging immigration drama has violence, nudity.

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

Positive Messages

Stateless depicts how refugees respond to the struggles and challenges they face in a detention camp.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Detainees often display courage and perseverance, while guards occasionally show compassion.

Violence

Physical violence, including a stabbing, is depicted. Characters are drowned offscreen. 

Sex

The main character belongs to a cult-like self-help group, where she is manipulated and subjected to emotional and sexual abuse. Sexual intercourse, full frontal nudity, and naked corpses also appear regularly.

Language

Characters occasionally swear, using words like "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking and smoking is depicted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Stateless is a drama inspired by the true story of an Australian woman wrongly detained as an illegal immigrant in her own country. With much of the series unfolding within the walls of the detention camp, it realistically depicts the struggles and challenges -- from physical violence to mental illness -- the prisoners face everyday. Profanity is not used frequently, but words like "s--t" and "f--k" do occasionally pop up in conversations. Similarly, while  alcohol and cigarettes are not abused, characters often indulge in the devices in social situations. The main character belongs to a cult-like self-help group, where she is manipulated and subjected to emotional and sexual abuse. 

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What's the story?

Inspired by true events, STATELESS is a six-episode drama that tells the story of an Australian citizen mistakenly detained as an immigrant in her own country. While the focus is on this fact-based character (played by Yvonne Strahovski,) the series also digs into the lives of other prisoners, as well as the facility's guards and officials. Taking place primarily within the detention camp, it attempts to authentically depict what life's like on both sides of its walls. 

Is it any good?

Stateless features four storylines, focused on a quartet of different characters. In addition to Sofie Werner -- based on a real-life Australian woman accidentally imprisoned as an immigrant on her own soil -- it digs into the difficult lives of an Afghan refugee and his family, a newly-hired detention center guard, and the woman tasked with running the facility. Much of the drama unfolds within the camp, where we follow the day-to-day struggles of the detainees', as well as the challenges faced by the facility's stressed-out employees.The individual stories here are all pretty absorbing on their own, but they become more engaging once they begin to interconnect and affect each other. The series is at its best when the four protagonists connect -- or conflict -- with each other.

The raw, often uncomfortable depiction of life within the walls of the detention center also injects a degree of authenticity that complements the excellent performances. Sadly, the rich, nuanced storytelling is often overshadowed by Sofie's tale, which can feel tonally different from the other story threads; where much of the series supports an almost docu-drama feel, her story feels more like a serialized mystery. Still, if you're interested in the relevant topic of illegal immigration and what the potential perspective is from both sides of the wall, Stateless is a worthy watch. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Stateless' portrayal of the immigration system. Why are the characters detained? Why are they entering the country illegally? What challenges do they face on the path to citizenship?

  • Why does Sofie Werner want to flee her family? Why does she feel more accepted and loved by the members of the self-help group? 

  • Why are characters protesting outside of the detention facility? How do the detention camp's guards and officials react to the protesters and why? 

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