Washington Heights

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Washington Heights TV Poster Image
Quasi-reality show follows attractive NYC-dweller dramas.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Another has a criminal past, but is trying to build a better future.

Violence

Fights sometimes break out between cast members, leading to slapping, hair pulling, punching, and attempts at slamming people's heads into the cement (but no blood is visible). One cast member's father is in prison.

Sex

Endless conversations about romantic drama, plus some kissing, caressing. Sexually oriented conversations are frequent, including comments like "jump his bones."

Language

Words like "ass," "bitch" and "damn" are audible and frequent; "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped when spoken by the cast, but can be heard in songs played in the background.

Consumerism

Apple computers and Toyota Corollas are visible. Facebook and other social media are discussed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hard alcohol, beer, cocktails are consumed at bars, parties, and during street celebrations (in bottles wrapped in paper bags). A cast member served jail time for drug-related crimes. Cigarette smoking is visible.

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?

TV details

For kids who love reality shows

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