What parents need to know
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.
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.
Families can talk 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?