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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Some strong social commentary about education, class, race, and other prevalent Australian social issues. Racial slurs and derogatory terms (like calling kids "retarded" and "homo") are often heard, but the behavior isn't viewed as acceptable. There's consistent tension between the Australian students and kids from the Pacific Islands; one teacher appears biased against Islanders. Special education students, including some with Down syndrome, are often featured. Includes references to anorexia and other disorders. There are some strong positive friendships between students and teachers. Students are primarily Caucasian, but Asians and Pacific Islanders are always visible. Consistent with Australian social norms, students of aboriginal descent are referred to as "black."
Violence & Scariness
Some pushing, shoving, and arguing between students. Some teachers lose their temper and physically toss a student out of the classroom. There are references to girls cutting themselves, as well as references to rape, child molestation, and pedophilia.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One student's graffiti drawings contain images of penises and, on one occasion, disturbing sexual behavior. One girl is referred to as a "slut." Some of Mr. G's choreography can be a little provocative.
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Strong, uncensored language is constant; everything from "bitch" and "bastard" to "mother f---er," "s--t," and "p---y" are used endlessly.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Includes conversations about drug use (marijuana and Ecstasy). One student's overdose becomes a major theme in the series.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this Australian mockumentary series focuses on school life, it's definitely intended for mature viewers. It offers strong commentary about prevalent social issues in Australia -- including private vs. public education, class, race, and juvenile delinquency. The students (and occasionally some teachers) use lots of curse words (including "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y"), utter racial slurs, and make frequent derogatory references to homosexuality. While a few of these comments are consistent with Australian social norms, they create some iffy content for young viewers here at home. Also expect some sexual imagery, drug references, physical confrontations, and heavy issues like rape, anorexia, molestation, and more.
Is It Any Good?
Shot at an actual Aussie high school, the series' unconventional-but-clever mix of actors and real school students and staffers makes it both funny and genuine. In fact, all three of Lilley's performances are so convincing that it's sometimes hard to forget that they're not real. But as funny as it is, the show also taps into some very serious issues about Australian public school, including teachers' inability to cope with difficult behavioral issues, racial prejudice, class distinctions, and the quality of education offered at public vs. private schools.
While Summer Heights High offers plenty of hilarious moments, it also has some poignant scenes, especially when teachers express true concern over their students and when prejudice leads to some unfortunate misunderstandings. And the whole package comes wrapped in some very mature content, including constant strong language, racial slurs, and homophobic references (all used to make a point, but still). While they're not treated as positive things, references to drug use and some disturbing sexual behavior are also major themes of the series. In short, it's not meant for kids -- but for mature teens and adults, it's definitely quality entertainment from Down Under.
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