Whose Vote Counts, Explained

TV review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
Whose Vote Counts, Explained TV Poster Image
Docu series explains complicated U.S. electoral system.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Emphasizes the importance of voting, but also shows real-life examples of practices like voter suppression.

Positive Role Models

This series features activists who fight to help more people vote. It also features people from past and present who have taken steps to make it harder for disenfranchised people to vote.

Violence

Moderate violence and scariness as historical events are discussed. There are videos and pictures of police brutality, but it is not graphic (only pushing and shoving are shown). There is video footage of upsetting news stories, but the footage itself is not scary (for example, the Sandy Hook shooting is mentioned and the accompanying footage shows adults crying).

Sex

One episode talks about how "adult content" is protected under free speech with an accompanying illustration of a very pixilated male genitalia on a computer screen. It's fleeting and unlikely to be noticed by kids, but it's there.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Whose Vote Counts, Explained is a Vox-produced miniseries that explains the history, mechanics, and injustices of elections in the United States. There is a moderate amount of violent and scary content as historical events are discussed. There are videos and pictures of police brutality against Black people, but it's not graphic (pushing and shoving are shown). Upsetting news stories are mentioned, but footage itself is not scary. (For example, during the segment about the Sandy Hook shooting, the accompanying footage shows adults crying). Sex is not a focus, but in one episode a fleeting and obscured cartoon image of male genitalia is shown as the narrator says "adult content." The overall gist of the series is that the election process in the U.S. is broken. Whose Vote Counts, Explained gives kids an idea of how complex, and sometimes unfair, electing national leaders really is.

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What's the story?

WHOSE VOTE COUNTS, EXPLAINED explores different aspects of the United States's national elections. It premiered in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election and is a three-episode spin-off of Explained, a documentary series produced by Vox. The first episode, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, explains the history of the right to vote in the U.S.. The second episode, narrated by Selena Gomez, explains campaign finance. The third, narrated by John Legend, explains how gerrymandering and the electoral college system make some people's votes count more than others. The series features interviews of politicians, historians, activists, and pundits. It explores historical and current events through news footage and clever graphics that help to illustrate the points. Overall, the series makes the case that the election process in the United States today is broken, and that the unfairness disproportionately affects non-White Americans.

Is it any good?

This series does a great job of connecting the history of voting and elections in America to issues still present in our electoral system. It's definitely aimed at adults first, and fans of John Oliver's exhaustively researched deep dives into a subject will enjoy Whose Vote Counts, Explained. The series is produced by left-of-center Vox Media, and so your family's political leanings will likely color your thoughts on how the narrative is presented in this series.

Some of the vocabulary and concepts will definitely be over kids' heads (and truthfully, some adults' heads as well because the electoral college is so nonsensical). Teens and tweens who are interested in politics and current events, especially during an election year, will appreciate learning more about how the American voting system really works. This series does not shy away from tough issues in America's history, including how various groups of Americans have been disenfranchised and treated unfairly. It definitely presents a more nuanced and skeptical view of the political process than kid-focused election content like Schoolhouse Rock. Watching this series will inspire many kids to ask "why do we do it this way?" and "how can we fix it?". 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why voting is important. Do the adults in your family vote? Why or why not?

  • Is there anything in Whose Vote Counts, Explained that surprised you about voting in the United States? Is there anything you didn't understand? How can we learn more about it together?

  • If you were in charge, what would you change about the voting process to make it more fair?

TV details

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For kids who love learning about politics

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