True Life

TV review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
True Life TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Gritty -- but provoking -- reality show.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

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We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show offers a look into the world of teens coping with specific issues. It encourages viewers to think and inspires compassion and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters drink, smoke, swear, are pregnant, are recovering from drug addiction, etc.


One episode focuses on "baby mamas" another features sperm donation.


Some bleeping.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One show features smoking (including by a pregnant teen), and another has a central character drinking at a party. Another episode is about prescription drug abuse.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some installments of True Life feature mature material: In one episode, a man makes money by donating sperm, and in another a pregnant teen struggles to retain custody of her child. You may see drinking, smoking, and (bleeped out) swearing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byHeather M. July 9, 2019
Adult Written byMike M July 27, 2014

Mature topics, real-life drama explored in excellent MTV staple.

Do not let the fact that True Life is an MTV program deter you from watching. This is a fantastically executed series which can be described as a cross between... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byAR16 October 28, 2012

Very educational.

I have been watching this show for years...Probably started watching it when i was in 5th grade. Ever since I've been watching this show I've learn so... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byImMelloh September 1, 2012

What's the story?

TRUE LIFE tackles issues such as young parents dealing with custody fights, students struggling with the prescription drug Adderall, and two men who do bizarre jobs for money. Some of the episodes are meatier than others, but they are all relatively engaging, and can even be thought-provoking.

Is it any good?

This is still voyeurism: Viewers are watching people in often desperate situations, and may have an impulse to simply shake their heads as a pregnant teen pulls a drag on a cigarette, or a sideshow freak puts a snake up his nose. But when they get over the thrill of being judgmental, they will find plenty of material in True Life that may inspire discussion -- and even activism. The episode about "baby mamas" with custody issues is a good advertisement for safe sex and abstinence; the sideshow freak who bucks stereotypes with his desire to get married and buy a house may encourage a little more tolerance for the different.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about True Life's purpose. There is certainly a voyeuristic element as we watch people in often desperate situations -- but is there something to be learned from their stories, too? Do you care more about an issue -- such as teen pregnancy, drug addiction, tolerance -- after seeing real people struggling with it?

  • How do the people on True Life inspire compassion and empathy? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality TV

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

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