A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
While the series includes some general themes of heroism, bravery, and leadership, its basis -- the beginnings of the space program -- is primarily driven by the United States' fear of Russia surpassing them in the Space Race.
Positive Role Models
The Mercury Seven astronauts display a number of admirable qualities -- courage, competence, leadership, bravery -- but they're also flawed characters, whose positive traits are often tempered by their less commendable ones.
Violence & Scariness
A man sustains a bloody hand injury. A pilot is killed in a plane crash, and we later see his wife and young daughter attending his funeral.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some sexual innuendos and jokes, including a man commenting on a woman's "hiney wiggle." A couple is shown post-coitus, touching each other intimately, sans nudity. Marital infidelity is a frequent topic explored in the series.
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While not excessive, inappropriate language, including "hell," "damn," "s--t," and "pecker," -- are used in casual conversation.
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Products & Purchases
The series is based on a book available for purchase. Other film and TV adaptations are also avaiable.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink, sometimes excessively, and smoke in social situations, often at bars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Right Stuff is a historical drama based on the 1979 book of the same name. It tells the story of the first astronauts -- the Mercury Seven -- who are portrayed as heroic, brave, and the "best" men for the job, but also flawed characters, possessing a number of less admirable traits and personal problems. Characters frequently drink -- sometimes excessively -- and smoke. Some also engage in extramarital affairs, a subject that's explored extensively in the series, and display sexist behavior. Language includes "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," "pecker," and "screwing." A pilot is shown losing control of his plane and crashing; the impact is not shown, but we later see his funeral, where his wife and young, distraught daughter are in attendance. Some blood is shown in a scene where a character sustains an injury to his hand.
Is It Any Good?
This series nails the historical drama, offering an engaging account of this remarkable, nation-defining event. But while its cast of star-gazing cowboys could have complemented and deepened the story, they too often feel like stock characters in shiny space suits. Kicking off mere hours before the first American astronaut is blasted into space, the story abruptly flashes back two years. It's a fun set-up and cliffhanger, though one that could possibly alienate anyone expecting a thrilling space adventure versus a historical drama.
Stick with it past that initial tease, though, and you'll discover the narrative leading up to that historic moment is nearly as absorbing as the launch itself. Given room to breath over the course of its episodic run, the series digs into everything from the exhaustive astronaut selection process and grueling training to the complicated personal lives of the chosen Mercury Seven. The latter provides an especially interesting exploration into the unexpected celebrity the men faced upon being selected and positioned as national heroes. Sadly, The Right Stuff stumbles a bit in its characterizations of the astronauts, rarely fleshing them out beyond a few, often stereotypical, traits. There's plenty of potentially juicy conflict between John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams) and Alan Shepard (Jake McDorman), for example, but too often they're reduced to the responsible boy scout and reckless playboy, respectively. What's worse, these two represent the most layered of the bunch, with the other five often coming off like interchangeable clones -- all handsome, confident white guys hoping to go to space.
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.