They Call Me Magic
By Martin Brown,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Docuseries depicts a superstar's incredible life blandly.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages about perseverance, activism, and compassion.
Positive Role Models
Focuses on subjects who show leadership, accountability, and bravery.
Focuses on the men in and around Johnson's basketball career, with some attention given to his wife, Cookie. Though there is racial diversity among the interviewees, race is not a topic of discussion.
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Violence & Scariness
Limited to small incidents on the basketball court.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A lot of talk about sex as part of the discussion around Magic contracting HIV. However, sex is not talked about explicitly. Interviewees and archival footage only talk about sex in generalities and focus on implications.
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Products & Purchases
Consumerism is limited to promoting the NBA and some of Magic's other business ventures.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking, drug use, and smoking are not shown, but situations involving alcohol are alluded to.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that They Call Me Magic is a documentary series about NBA superstar Magic Johnson, from his early days on the Lakers to his evolution into an activist for HIV research. Magic's story, and especially his activism and charitable work, are fascinating and worth learning about, even if the docuseries doesn't go too deep beneath the story's surface. True to Magic's personal brand, the series keeps profanity to a minimum and only vaguely discusses about sex and other edgy topics.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
They Call Me Magic
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What's the Story?
THEY CALL ME MAGIC follows Earvin "Magic" Johnson from his days as a college player to his star turn in the NBA to his work as an HIV activist and entrepreneur. Luminaries from throughout the basketball world, including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Magic's Lakers teammates, participate in new interviews that attempt to reveal the man behind the legend.
Is It Any Good?
Magic Johnson's tweets have shown that he has a unique way of taking exciting events and distilling them into bland, straightforward information; this docuseries follows suit. They Call Me Magic recounts the highs and lows of Magic's career without much new insight. The dark side of Magic's personal history is alluded to but kept vague, while there are also missed opportunities when discussing his impact as an activist off the court. Discussion of Magic contracting HIV, for example, fails to put the AIDS crisis into real context or sufficiently address the homophobia that accompanied the pandemic. Magic's story on its own is so compelling that it's well worth becoming familiar with, but They Call Me Magic could've done a much stronger job of helping it resonate.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Magic Johnson. How familiar were you with Magic and his story? What surprised you? Did his portrayal in the series live up to the image you had beforehand?
What were some of the things that made Magic such a successful player? Did any of those carry over to his life after basketball? What are some examples?
Why did Magic become involved with HIV and AIDS activism? How did he handle his HIV diagnosis? How does Magic's story help put the AIDS crisis into context?
- Premiere date: April 22, 2022
- Network: Apple TV+
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Activism, Sports and Martial Arts, History
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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.
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