The Choir

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Choir TV Poster Image
British docuseries sings when it comes to positive messages.

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

Positive Messages

The show touts teambuilding and responsibility and promotes leadership among the students, who realize over the course of their journey that hard work yields tangible rewards.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The choirmaster doesn't settle for anything but the students' best (although he sometimes resorts to cutthroat means to get it out of them). Many of the students emerge as leaders, too, and take away important lessons about hard work and responsibility.

Violence
Sex
Language

Rare, bleeped use of "f--k" or "s--t" in moments of frustration (on the part of the adult conductor, but never in front of the kids).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary-style British reality series offers a wealth of positive message for kids, including take-aways on teamwork and responsibility. But along with that, there are some heartbreaking instances of harsh reality -- such as the choirmaster's decision to cut several members from the original choir and re-audition new voices to achieve a better sound. There's also some bleeped swearing to look out for (one instance of "f--k" and a few "s--t"s over the course of the entire series), but in general, this is a good bet for older tweens and teens -- especially those who love to sing.

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What's the story?

In the BAFTA Award-winning docuseries THE CHOIR, idealistic choirmaster Gareth Malone (a dead ringer for a 20-something Harry Potter) sets out to create a competitive choir in a school that's never had one before, beginning with an eye-opening audition process that reveals he's got a lot of work ahead of him. Battling low attendance and, initially, a lack of strong voices, he only has nine months to get his ragtag group ready to perform at the choir olympics in China. But he doesn't anticipate the effect that the experience will have on everyone involved.

Is it any good?

It's easy to see why The Choir picked up a BAFTA in its native England. After all, these long-form, documentary-style stories are precisely the kind of programming the BBC does so well. And by the end of the experience, everyone -- including viewers at home -- feels connected to these kids and their accomplishments. It's less certain whether The Choir's languid pacing will mesh with Americans' notoriously short attention spans. But those who do give it a chance will be royally glad they did.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about competition and the choirmaster's methods. Did you think his decision to cut students from the choir was too harsh? Would you feel the same way about a coach who cut poor-performing players from a school's athletic team?

  • Does a school choir have educational value? In this case, how did singing in an organized group help students become better people? What lessons did they learn that they didn't know before?

  • Did the show counter any negative stereotypes you once held about choirs, particularly those that perform classical (as opposed to popular) music? What misconceptions did the students themselves have about singing in a choir before they'd actually done it?

TV details

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