Survive

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Survive TV Poster Image
Suicide haunts compelling, cliffhanger-heavy survival show.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Grim and mature, but with positive messages to be gleaned about urge to survive and thrive, which sometimes kicks in only under extreme circumstances. Jane's suicidal leanings may be triggering for some; parents may want to talk about how Jane changes over the course of this drama, and how suicides affect those left behind. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Jane and Paul are tough, strong; they are tried by the circumstances of this drama, yet are able to find internal fortitude they need to keep struggling. 

Violence

References to minor characters who have suicidal ideations, self-harm at mental hospital Jane is in when the story picks up. Jane herself has self-harmed, made attempts at suicide; we see her hands and arms covered with blood, Jane lying on the ground with bloody clothes, scars on her arm, a bloody razor blade, a hysterical relative, an ambulance. She also says she just wants to die, has plans to "take a handful of oblivion" (pills she stole from the hospital's pharmacy) and "just sleep forever." Her father and grandmother died by suicide; Jane believes she's cursed to do so also. We don't see Jane and Paul's actual plane crash, but do see unearthly light outside of plane windows as well as plane shaking and characters screaming; afterward, we see scattered bodies, a woman who dies suddenly with blood coming out of her mouth and bloody injuries, and wreckage of the plane. Expect constant peril, including scenes in which characters edge along snow precipices. 

Sex

Focus is not on romance, but Jane and Paul share romantic tension; expect attraction to be part of their storyline. 

Language

Language and cursing includes "f--k," "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jane smokes a cigarette in one scene. Lifehouse patients take prescribed medications for their issues; in one scene, Jane breaks into the hospital's pharmacy and steals pills from containers prominently labeled "fentanyl" and "oxycodone"; later, she lines the pills up on a counter and prepares to take them to kill herself (she's interrupted). 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Survive is a drama about a woman whose plane crashes on a snowy mountaintop. She and another passenger are the only survivors and must work their way out of the wilderness. Images and discussion of suicide are bloody and frequent, especially in early episodes, when we see flashbacks to the main character's last suicide attempt. Images include hands and arms covered in blood, a bloody razor blade, a woman lying on the ground, an ambulance with flashing lights, and more. We also see this woman stealing medications from a hospital pharmacy, and lining them up on a counter, preparing to take them and kill herself (she is interrupted before she starts swallowing the pills). We also hear about other characters self-harming or dying by suicide. A plane crash is not shown, but we see a plane shaking, passengers screaming, and a red fiery light outside the plane windows; then we see scattered bodies and a woman who dies suddenly with bloody wounds and blood coming out of her mouth. Characters are in frequent peril, including in danger of falling off the mountain they're climbing down. One character smokes cigarettes. Language includes "f--k" and "s--t." Jane and Paul are tough and strong (despite Jane's emotional fragility); they work together to survive and escape. Positive messages are few and far between, but Jane's switch from self-harm to survival mode is instructive (if possibly triggering for some). 

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What's the story?

When a woman recently released from a mental hospital (and who struggles with suicidal thoughts) is involved in a plane crash on a remote snowy mountain, it's going to take everything she has just to SURVIVE. Jane (Sophie Turner) is making the plane trip back home from a stint at the hospital after a suicide attempt; no one knows that she plans to die by suicide midflight. But when the plane crashes, Paul (Corey Hawkins) is the only other survivor, and suddenly Jane finds she has a will to live when the two must work together to fight their way out of the terrifying wilderness.

Is it any good?

Taut, ominous, with a great soundtrack and cast, this "movie in chapters" will keep viewers relentlessly advancing to the next short chunk to find out what happens next. When we meet Jane, she's a woman in tatters: Convinced that suicide is her inevitable fate (after all, her father and grandmother both died that way), she hatches a dark plan that she believes will ensure she'll never reach home after being released from Lifehouse (the institution that treated her after her last suicide attempt). But fate has plans of its own, and when Jane and Paul find themselves stranded at the top of a mountain, Jane's survival instincts kick in at last. 

Watching characters struggling in a terrible situation from the comfort of a cozy couch is a classic diversion, of course, but if the characters aren't appealing, viewers won't watch for long. But both Jane and Paul are sympathetic: You root for them, and as they slowly find ways to keep themselves safe and start working their way back to civilization, viewers may be tempted to imagine how they'd handle such an impasse. Thankfully, these characters are smart as well as relatable, and despite the seemingly impossible odds, they're not out of options. Survive is a story told in a series of cliffhangers; just try to keep yourself from anticipating the next one. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies and TV in which characters must survive disasters and harsh climates. What do you think is the appeal of these kinds of stories? Why do we tell and watch things like Survive about characters who are trapped in terrible circumstances? 

  • How far would you go to survive? Would you make the same decisions the characters in this story do? Are there any choices they make that you disagree with? 

  • Survive is given an extra layer of complexity due to the suicidal urges of one character, who later finds she must struggle to stay alive. What messages are being sent about Jane's character and issues? How would this drama be different if Jane were the only crash survivor? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dark drama

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