Survivor's Remorse

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Survivor's Remorse TV Poster Image
Sex, violence, drugs, language in excellent b-ball drama.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This deeply humanistic drama explores many areas of morality, including duty to one's family and community and the value of hard work versus natural talent.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cam Calloway is a talented and newly rich young man who hasn't forgotten his roots or his loved ones.

Violence

Scenes of violence, including gunplay, punching, and threats of further violence, take place in front of a grade-school-age child. Guns are brandished and fired; characters point guns at each other and threaten to maim victims. Men engage in fistfights.

Sex

Sex is graphically depicted on-screen, with breasts visible and couples thrusting and moaning. There also are numerous references to sex, such as when a lesbian character makes an off-color joke about oral sex. A character refers to child molestation as an adult "going all Sandusky" on a young boy, and a son thanks his mother for not aborting him.

Language

Very frequent cursing, including all the four-letter words, graphic words referring to body parts and sexuality, and racial slurs, including one character calling Chinese people "chinks." Gendered cursing includes a character calling a male lead a "little bitch" when he cries.

Consumerism

Frequent references to real-life brands (Aston Martin).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink and use drugs such as marijuana on-screen. They refer to "needing" a drink and act drunk and stoned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Survivor's Remorse is an adult-oriented half-hour dramedy about a young man who becomes famous and successful overnight when he's hired to play basketball for a professional team in Atlanta. Sexual situations are depicted graphically on-screen, with nudity (breasts and buttocks) and thrusting and moaning. Off-color jokes about and references to sex also are common. Cursing is near-constant, with all the four-letter words represented. Characters drink (and act drunk) on-screen; they smoke marijuana (and act stoned). Violent acts are frequent, including gunplay, threats of torture, and fistfighting, sometimes in front of grade-school-age children. Despite this, the show is beautifully written, filmed, and acted, and characters get through difficult situations with dignity and kindness.

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What's the story?

After he receives a lucrative job offer from an Atlanta baseball team and finally escapes his poverty-stricken origins, Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) is feeling SURVIVOR'S REMORSE. He's managed to save his family from the old neighborhood, convincing his beloved sister M-Chuck (Erica Ash); his mom, Cassie (Tichina Arnold); his Uncle Julius (Mike Epps); his cousin-by-marriage Missy (Teyonah Parris); and his best friend and manager Reggie (RonReaco Lee) to move to Atlanta en masse to start enjoying the good life. But back home, relatives and childhood friends are working on Cam's conscience and his bank account, taking a toll on each. Meanwhile, there's drama galore surrounding his new team and its controversial management -- so it's out of the frying pan and into the fire for Cam.

Is it any good?

There's a beautiful moment in the pilot of Survivor's Remorse when the grimness of Cam's childhood home and the surreal nature of his sudden wealth is telegraphed in one second flat: The camera pulls up on a bird's-eye view of the parking lot outside an apartment building. Cam's car pulls in, a bright flash against the faded asphalt and marked-off spots with car-size oil spots. A few minutes later, a blackmail plot and violence is foiled by a sincere apology for childhood misdeeds. Show-don't-tell drama and trope-averting plot twists? Intelligent viewers, take notice: This is drama that won't pander to the worst instincts of its viewers and lowest-common-denominator humor.

Cam's challenges are realistic, and the people around him read as real people, too: his louche and laid-back sister, his grasping mom, his stoned philosopher of an uncle, and his sharp-eyed cousin, who warns the newly rich Cam against doling out checks because, "It's been your money, Hammer." With its superior writing and fine acting, this show can be placed in the pantheon of Golden Age television such as Orange Is the New Black, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the Starz network is airing a drama with edgy content on sex, drugs, and race. Starz is a cable station; what types of things can it depict that network stations cannot? Why would such a station want to reach for controversial content?

  • Does Cam's life look enviable? Did your opinion change over the course of the series?

  • How does Survivor's Remorse telegraph the relative wealth of Cam and his cohorts in Atlanta versus their relative poverty in Boston? Consider plot, dialogue, setting, camera angles, and other aspects of filming.

TV details

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