The Breaks

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Breaks TV Poster Image
Edgy drama follows hip-hop artists on journey to the top.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The hip-hop music industry is unforgiving, lucrative; its musicians are artists who strive to be heard.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some will do anything to break into the industry; some folks are thieves, drug dealers, and murderers.

Violence

Yelling, fistfights, beatings using bats; guns, shootings. Murders alluded to; little blood. 

Sex

Strong sexual innuendo, partial buttocks visible. Crude sexual references such as "pussy" and the like. 

Language

"Bitch," "pissed," "ass"; "s--t"; "f--k" muted in TV version but can be heard on streaming.

Consumerism

Buick, Chrysler. Rap, hip-hop hits featured throughout. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking, marijuana, cocaine use; references to drug dealing.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Breaks is a series about a group of friends who try to break into the hip-hop industry in the 1990s. It features lots of strong language (some streaming versions don't mute the curse words) and some sexual content, including partial bare bottoms and crude lyrics. There's a significant amount of violence (beatings, gunfire), and drug dealing and murder are addressed. Drinking and marijuana smoking are frequent, and cocaine use is visible. Lots of popular hip-hop songs of the era are played throughout. 

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What's the story?

Based on Dan Charnas' critically acclaimed book The Big Payback, THE BREAKS chronicles the lives of three friends who are trying to work their way up in the hip-hop music scene during the 1990s. Nikki Jones (Afton Williamson) is a recent college grad who chose to pursue an internship with up-and-coming music label Fouray Entertainment headed up by Barry Fouray (Wood Harris) instead of going to Harvard Law School. Her boyfriend, David Aaron (David Call), is a budding music programmer committed to making sure that rap and hip-hop make it to the airwaves -- but without the help of his big-time music manager dad, George "Juggy" Aaron (Evan Handler). Meanwhile, their industrious friend Darryl "Deevee" Van Putten Jr. (Mack Wilds) is looking for new talent that will help launch his music-producing career, much to the dismay of his dad (played by Method Man). From convincing top brass that authentic hip-hop shouldn't become pop music to navigating the cultural and economic challenges associated with the business, they each struggle through the highs and lows of working their way up the industry ladder and looking for their own big breaks. 

Is it any good?

This entertaining and well-written drama focuses on the behind-the-scenes world of the 1990s hip-hop industry. Much of the show's focus is how up-and-comers handle the pressures that come with hustling from the bottom of the business to make a name for themselves. However, it also highlights some of the very real issues that were affecting the scene during this pivotal time, thanks to financially successful hybrid versions of the music, such as gangsta rap and hip-hop-inspired pop music. 

It's in this context that the series presents a range of storylines about professional challenges, relationship struggles, and dangerous connections to talented folks who also happen to be law breakers. Adding to this are the many featured music performances by a range of artists, including Antoine Harris, AFRO, and Teyana Taylor. If you're one of the many folks who love learning about hip-hop's artistry and cultural significance, The Breaks will not disappoint. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of hip-hop music. Where does the music come from? When did it become popular? 

  • The Breaks connects the hip-hop industry with risky behavior, violence, and sexism. Is this portrayal realistic, or is it based on stereotypes about the music and the people who produce and make money from it? 

  • Why do so many hip-hop and rap songs contain raunchy lyrics and swear words? Do they have to in order to be fun to listen to? 

TV details

For kids who love music

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