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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 like Jersey Shore, Washington Heights is an MTV reality series that features verbal and physical fights, lots of salty language, and some sexual conversations while it follows a specific subculture of young people. Drinking and smoking are part of everyday life, as well as references to jail and drug-related criminal charges. Aside from the focus on interpersonal drama, there are some positive elements, as people try to steer their lives in positive ways.
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What's the Story?
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS is a reality series featuring a tight-knit group of young twentysomethings in the New York neighborhood they grew up in. The series features J.P. (a.k.a. Audubon), an up-and-coming hip-hop singer (who also narrates the series), Jimmy, an aspiring baseball player, and his girlfriend Eliza. Also part of the group is the slam-poetry loving Frankie, the hot-tempered Reyna, and Taylor, who stands out as the the only non-Latina member of the group. Rounding out the crew is the artistic Ludwin, the fun-loving but rather unfocused Rico, and his younger brother Fred, who is an aspiring fashion designer. From performing at local venues and figuring out their careers, to fighting over boyfriends and visiting incarcerated parents, the show highlights some of the highs and lows of growing up and living in the iconic uptown neighborhood.
Is It Any Good?
Washington Heights highlights the trials and tribulations of a group of adults who grew up together, and still love their tight-knit Manhattan neighborhood. Folks may get to see glimpses of what the community is like, but most of the series is dedicated to the cast members talking about each other.
While milder than Jersey Shore, it uses the same voyeuristic style featured in reality shows like The Hills and Teen Mom, which relies on lots of exaggerated glares, close ups, and other tricks to create drama. As a result, you get the sense that conflict is being specifically created (and exaggerated) to give viewers a reason to watch. Even if you can get past this, the overall show is pretty lackluster.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Washington Heights. Did you know that it was named after a fort used in that area to protect Manhattan Island from the British during the American Revolution? How has this community changed over the last few centuries? Why does this neighborhood remain iconic today?
How real do you think this reality series is? Do you think the cast acts the same way when the cameras are off? Can people really learn anything about this neighborhood by watching this show? Why or why not?
Do you think most people in this neighborhood are as attractive as the ones featured on this show? How do you think they selected people to appear on the show? What qualities do you think they were looking for?
- Premiere date: January 9, 2013
- Cast: J.P. Perez, Reyna Saldana, Taylor Howell
- Network: MTV
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Gritty -- but provoking -- reality show.
Goal-oriented reality TV with a happy ending.
The Glee Project
Glee-inspired reality contest is inclusive and inspiring.
For kids who love reality shows
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