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 this reality series follows hip-hop artist T.I. as he mentors troubled teens as before being formally sentenced on weapons charges. There are discussions of violent criminal activity (including T.I.'s own criminal record) that are too strong for tweens and younger teens, but they're offered in the context of showing the serious consequences of this kind of behavior. Also expect references to drugs, strong language (with some bleeps), and potentially upsetting images (dead people in caskets, for example).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
T.I.'S ROAD TO REDEMPTION follows Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. -- a.k.a. Grammy-winning rapper T.I. -- as he attempts to change the lives of seven troubled teens before facing formal sentencing for weapons charges in March 2009. After he was arrested for arms possession, the hip-hop artist agreed to complete 1000 hours of community service in exchange for a reduction in his potential 30-year prison sentence. So now the singer (who is currently out on bond and monitored at all times) offers tough love as he shows wayward kids some of the very real negative -- and often fatal -- consequences of dealing drugs, joining gangs, and ignoring the law. Meanwhile, T.I. offers his personal insights about his own life and the mistakes he's made as he counts down the days to his own incarceration.
Is it any good?
The show is an interesting combination of self-revelation and mentorship as T.I. attempts to scare teens straight to help them avoid problems like the one's he's currently facing. But the series also kind of feels like a publicity stunt intended to score points with both viewers and the legal system. As a result, you can't help but wonder whether he's motivated more by the idea of helping kids or the hope of being spared a long jail sentence.
Regardless of T.I.'s true intentions, the series does offer some very positive messages about staying out of trouble, the value of getting an education, and the importance of family. It also shows how past mistakes can have a long-term impact. Granted, the show's detailed discussions about weapons, drive-by shootings, and other criminal activity are too strong for tweens and even some young teens. But for older teens who need a reality check, this show definitely offers some lessons worth learning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why T.I. chose to do a reality show about his community service. What do you think his intentions are? Is it just a publicity stunt, or does he genuinely want to make a difference in the teens' lives? Families can also discuss the consequences of getting involved in things like drugs and gang activity. How can the media be used to teach kids about making more positive choices? Do you think that this show is a good example of how this can be done?