The Eleven

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Eleven TV Poster Image
Sensationalized docuseries dramatizes unsolved murders.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Evidence can be revisited to solve old cases and prevent killers from going free. Mental illness is a theme. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Olsen and Paige want to seek justice but aren't in a legal position to ensure that it happens. 

Violence

Images of crime scenes, etc. Shootings described, and are audible (along with screaming) during reenactments. Guns, rifles, blood visible. Sexual violence, abuse discussed; threats are made.  

Sex

Some victims described as attractive; images of teens in their bathing suits. 

Language

"Hell." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette, cigar smoking visible. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that crime series The Eleven reexamines the serial murders of young women in Southeast Texas in hopes of identifying their killer. It features disturbing descriptions of violent murders of teenage girls, as well as archival footage of the victims, images of murder scenes, and interviews with the man suspected of committing the crimes. Sexual crimes and mental illness are also discussed. Words like "hell" are audible, and cigarette and cigar smoking is sometimes visible. These things are all offered in context, but are often highly dramatized for entertainment purposes. 

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What's the story?

THE ELEVEN is a reality series that reexamines the serial murders of young women in Southeast Texas in hopes of identifying their killer. During the 1970s, 11 teenage girls were brutally murdered in the Galveston County area. The murders were never solved, but a confession letter written by Edward (Ed) Harold Bell, who is serving a 70-year sentence for a separate killing, has convinced Houston Chronicle journalist Lise Olsen and retired police detective Fred Paige that he is responsible for their deaths. In an attempt to keep Bell from being released on parole, the two are revisiting these cold cases in hopes of definitely linking him to the 11 killings. They re-review evidence, return to the crime scenes, and conduct new interviews in hopes of finding pieces of the puzzles that will lead them to the truth. But trying to solve these murders is especially difficult, given that Bell denies the confession, and the cases are over 40 years old.

Is it any good?

This dark series offers a sensationalized look at the way old evidence is reinterpreted and new clues are collected in order to solve cold cases. Each installment of The Eleven takes an in-depth look at the details surrounding the murder of each teenager in hopes of finding the missing links that will connect Ed Bell to the crime. To this end, it also shows lots of archival footage, home videos, and disturbing crime scene photographs. Conversations with people who knew the victims, and interviews with Ed Bell himself, are also shown. 

Olsen and Paige claim that Ed Bell's upcoming parole hearing is the driving force behind their investigation. But the authenticity of their motives is undermined by the fact that they aren't conducting an official investigation. The constant dramatic reenactments of the kidnappings and shootings, and the detailed descriptions of the young women's final moments also make it feel exploitative. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way crimes are investigated and solved in real life. Is it as exciting, dramatic, or decisive as it appears on fictional crime TV shows like CSI

  • The Eleven uses dramatic reenactments to help describe what happened to these teenagers. How do you feel about this storytelling choice?

  • Do you think this investigation is objective? Is it fair to assume that Edward Harold Bell is guilty of these murders when he has not been convicted of these crimes in a court of law?

TV details

For kids who love crime documentaries

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