No reviews yet.Add your rating
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Letter is a reality show where four friends write anonymous letters to instruct each other on how to live a better life. References to sex, dating, flirting, marriage; occasional cursing ("Are you f--king kidding me?"); participants occasionally drink beer or wine onscreen (no one acts drunk); references to smoking cigarettes (no one smokes onscreen). Participants may react with pain to what they hear -- they cry, rail, argue with what's being said. Watching them undertake new activities intended to improve their character can be uncomfortable, and many get upset and cry. Redemption is the name of the game on this show, but not all viewers will agree that the changes participants are making need to be made, or that "tough love" from your friends is necessary or kind.
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
On each episode of THE LETTER, a group of four friends picks another friend at random and then writes that friend a letter telling her how to improve her life. We first see the participants in their normal lives, then they read the letters onscreen. During the next week, each friend must undertake new experiences/steps outlined by their letter, such as taking a meditation course, traveling to a new city to get out of their comfort zone, or taking on a new job. After the week of "tough love" is over, the friends come back together to talk about their week, reflect on what they've learned, and find out who wrote their letter and why.
Is It Any Good?
Riveting and emotional, this show pushes change and redemption, but the assumption that "tough love" is always positive may be hard for some to swallow. It's difficult to listen to (and definitely even more difficult for the participants to read) things like "you are the definition of a small-town bumpkin" and "you're the laziest person I've ever met." It's even harder to watch long-time friends argue over long-held grudges. Participants sometimes devolve into shouting and tears; they hug at the end, but it's hard to shake the notion that these women are shaken in ways both positive and negative. Yes, they may have tried and learned new things during the course of the show, but it's clear that they're often terribly wounded by what they've read, and that friendships are damaged.
Given that, it's hard not to view this show as exploitative, though it's reaching for redemptive. The Letter congratulates on fomenting change and growth, but at what cost? Teen viewers will likely be interested to watch; parents may want to watch too, at least at first, to point out that writing a friend an anonymous letter is a risky way to ask her for changes or point out her faults -- and that anonymous letters in general are looked down on by most people, for very good reasons.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the premise of this show. Is "tough love" a good way to relate to those around you? Does it help others with their faults? Is it kind?
Why are the participants on this show always female? Would this same process work as well on a group of male friends, or a group of male and female friends?
- Premiere date: October 11, 2016
- Network: Freeform
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Pretty Little Liars
Tantalizing mystery plays up glamour, sexiness in teen life.
Heartwarming drama about foster teens and their two moms.
Talky romcom runs on booze, puns, and innuendo.
For kids who love reality TV
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate