A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show underscores the importance of community and the need to care for the people who make their home in any particular community. Values like respect for nature and the power of pulling together for a cause are championed. A city vs. country strain in the drama can view "city folk" a bit stereotypically.
Positive Role Models
Characters tend to be stereotypical: the idealistic teacher (Sarah), her inoffensive love interest (Grover), her overly emotional friend (Corinne), her unstable mother (Ellen). Sarah's relationship with brother Danny is center stage but feels thin, and Danny's motivation is unrealistic. Teens are briefly sketched: a bully with secrets of his own, an idealistic hero we can root for, etc. Characters who are from big cities are uniformly evil and called things like "cidiots." A teen is Native; some storylines circle around his feelings of separateness.
Violence & Scariness
There are references to Ellen's past abuse of her children, like a story about when she throws a glass object that hit Danny in the head. A character slaps another in a moment of high drama.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Expect romantic complications; Sarah and Grover are clearly written to get together; popular high school student Bella kisses outcast Tyler. Some jokes are on the mature side, like when a character teases Sarah that a love interest's "balls are in your court." A teen boy tries to pressure a girl into having sex: "Do you really want to be the only one of your friends who's still a virgin?" he asks.
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Language includes "ass," "hell," "bastards," "bitch." One character is Native and is called "Squanto" by a bully.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character is an alcoholic; we see her drinking from a glass with a liquor bottle nearby, slurring her words. Her daughter refers to her fear of finding her "face down in your own puke" and states that her mother had 10 months of sobriety before this lapse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Republic of Sarah is a drama about a small town that decides to secede from the United States. They choose to do this after an oil company threatens to destroy some of the town's public spaces while mining a rare element. The titular Sarah is an idealistic person who works hard to save both her town and help family, friends, and students; like the other characters in this drama, she's something of a stereotype. Family complications include a family member who's an alcoholic; she's attempting to gain sobriety but expect to see her lapsed and drinking. We hear anecdotes about episodes of abuse, like when she threw a glass bottle at her son's head. Sexual content is confined to kissing and flirting, but in one scene, a male teen bully yells at a girl when she won't have sex with him and calls her a "bitch" (other language includes "hell," "ass," and "bastards"). A teen has Native background; a villainous character calls him "Squanto." Family members and friends are loyal, but one familiy in particular has a deep schism complicated by abuse and addiction. Values like community and pulling together for a common cause are championed.
Is It Any Good?
It's built on a cool premise and puts extra effort into world-building, but even though we're located in an interesting time and place, this drama feels a bit colorless. The cinematography looks like there's a gray filter over all the visuals, and the story has that feeling too. Stella Baker is game and clever as the rabble-rousing Sarah and it's easy to relate to her dilemma (smalltown savior vs. polluting faceless corporation? No contest!), but many of the other characters come off as by-the-numbers, created for story fodder and little else. As Sarah's estranged brother Danny, Luke Mitchell has a sneer that papers over a past full of dark "secrets" (which definitely aren't secret); Sarah's best friend (and Danny's estranged fiancé) Corinne (Hope Lauren) still unrealistically holds a torch for her ex after seven long years; Sarah has a best friend, Grover (Ian Duff), who's an obvious love interest.
Oh, and there are also sincere teens, law enforcement officers with hidden goals, Sarah's formerly abusive and currently alcoholic dramatic-complication-causing mother. It's a big cast, and their characters are sketched quickly in favor of servicing The Republic of Sarah's high-concept setup. Perhaps that's why this show comes off as formulaic instead of innovative, general rather than specifically located in a real place with real people. In a time when many Americans wish to be somewhere else, a separatist fantasy could be a rich source of irony and humor. Instead, it's just kinda mild, which is exactly the reaction it's likely to get from most viewers.
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