The States

Common Sense Media says

Fun American history snippets for tweens and up.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Teaches history in a relatively hip manner, though some controversial contemporary issues are glossed over/left out.

Violence & scariness

Stories about war, riots, and other violence. Images of graves, a noose, and grimacing faces during protests.

Sexy stuff

Some historical references to brothels.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some historical images of drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some of the images in this otherwise-fun history show -- a noose, a grave, racially motivated hate, etc. -- might upset very young viewers. There are also some references to gambling, drinking, and organized crime. But overall this is a clean, unobjectionable documentary series that combines education and entertainment.

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What's the story?

A hip American history lesson told from a variety of perspectives, THE STATES combines digital imagery, celebrity appearances, and historical footage. Profiling five states per episode, the series gives viewers a sense of each state's past, as well as its present-day place in the country. Everyday people -- as well as professors, politicians, and other notable folk -- offer their perspectives on their home states, giving a mostly positive account. For example, in one episode, actress Jane Alexander talks about living in Massachusetts, discussing her mother's Boston accent and her history of dating Harvard men. Lighter moments like these are accompanied by plenty of harder-hitting history, including a discussion of the Civil Rights movement-inspired attempt to integrate nine students into Arkansas public schools in 1957; an interview with one of the students enriches the history lesson and makes an emotional impact.

Is it any good?


While historically contentious issues like integration are mentioned, more recent hot topics -- like gay marriage in Massachusetts -- are absent, revealing a possible tendency toward a controversy-free, upbeat perspective. That said, parents can feel confident letting tweens and teens watch The States, knowing that they're getting a dose of history that will go down easily. Still, very young viewers might be disturbed by stories about the Civil War, slavery, hangings, and conflict with Native Americans. And parents might want to supplement the show's lessons with their own perspective or encourage kids to do more research.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of TV shows like this one. Do these kinds of shows make education fun? Do you think they usually give an accurate representation of the facts? How could you find out more if you wanted to? Families can also discuss their home states. What do you know about the state you live in? Do you feel like your identity is connected to your home state in some way? If so, how? What do tweens and teens like best and least about their state? Is there another state that you want to visit? Why?

TV details

Cast:Edward Herrmann
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of The States was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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