A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Series is an introduction to issues related to race, class, gender, and identity. Provides insight from real people affected by these issues and explores why certain phrases are problematic or offensive to them.
Series emphasizes breaking down people's prejudices and how to treat everyone respectfully. Many sub-issues talked about in each episode may make an overall takeaway harder for teens to understand.
Positive Role Models
Series features interviews from diverse people across gender identity, race, class, sexuality, and more. Counter-stereotypes are explicitly mentioned in several episodes. People from stigmatized communities talk about overcoming prejudices.
Violence & Scariness
People from marginalized communities talk about verbal hostilities and microagressions aimed at them. The series does not depict these events.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
"Feminism" episode makes brief reference to future plans for sex between consenting adults.
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Slurs are mentioned in the context of challenges faced by social groups. "Slut" and "whore" are said out loud in one interview in the "Feminism" episode. The "N" word is mentioned in the "Cultural Appropriation" episode, but it is referred to by shorthand (full word is not spoken). In the "Model Minority" episode, one interviewee says "friggin" and displays the middle finger (but it is censored).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In the "Model Minority" episode, a comedian makes a passing joke about someone getting blackout drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that WHAT I HEAR WHEN YOU SAY is a PBS web series that tackles issues around race, class, gender, and identity, and discusses these tough topics in a frank and honest way. People talk about verbal hostilities and microagressions they experience based on some part of their identity. There is some language, mostly in the context of challenges faced by social groups: "slut" and "whore" in the Feminism episode, reference to the "N" word in the Cultural Appropriation episode (full word not spoken). The Feminism episode briefly mentions future plans for consensual adult sex, and the Model Minority episode contains a passing joke about being blackout drunk.
Is It Any Good?
This series is attempting to tackle very complex topics in the span of 7-minute documentaries. What I Hear When You Say does an admirable job of explaining things in plain language and presenting each topic in a frank and honest way. However, most episodes are trying to fit in so many diverse perspectives that the overall takeaway can become muddled and each issue is not covered in depth. Teens who are engaged in current events (or who experience these issues personally) may not learn anything new. But white/straight/cisgender/upper class (etc.) teenagers who have not investigated their own privilege or don't have much experience with people different from themselves will come to understand new perspectives.
While the series does interview some comedians and lively personalities, the talking-head interviews make it seem more like a teaching tool than something teenagers would watch for entertainment. This series could be used very effectively by high school teachers or college professors as a jumping off point for a class discussion.
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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