Why We Hate

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Why We Hate TV Poster Image
Strong language, violent images in incisive docuseries.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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

Positive Messages

Themes of compassion and empathy are illustrated richly by the show, with stories about former extremists and bullies who learned to be more accepting after they were treated with kindness. Viewers may find their own empathy awakened by investigations into conflicts and why they start, and the (often quite understandable) motivations of perpetrators of violence. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Interviewees are often quite frank about their experiences, such as a former bully who honestly relates how she abused a classmate and what she was thinking when she did. We often hear from those who experienced some type of redemption, who were victimized, or who have an expert viewpoint. On the other hand, we see hatred of various kinds: racial, political, and cultural conflicts, protests, riots, with people shouting terrible things at each other, hitting each other, and far worse.


Violent images are given context, but we see numerous shocking and disturbing things: robed Klan members burning crosses, Hitler rallies, images of lynched people hanging from trees, a child in a field strewn with dead bodies after a genocidal conflict. Participants talk frankly about considering or attempting suicide. Historical photos show prisoners of war, inhabitants of a concentration camp, a pile of human skulls, police officers and soldiers punching protestors. Discussions of mass shootings are illustrated with images of students crying, a bullet hole in a window, an excerpt from a shooter's pre-rampage video. Protestors visit events, including a funeral for a victim of a hate crime, with very offensive signs. Video shows animals being aggressive to each other, including an image of a chimp eating raw, bloody meat.


Some talk of sexuality is mature and negative, like protestors' signs that read "Fags = anal sex" and "God hates sluts." Another participant talks briefly about being transgender. 


Cursing includes "hell" and "damn," but stronger cursing is bleeped. Hate speech is not bleeped, however. Expect to hear (and, on signs, to read) words about sexuality and sexual identity like "fag," "dyke," and "tranny." Hate speech is also common: "facist," "cockroaches," a Nazi adherent says "sieg heil." We also see symbols of hate like Confederate flags and swastikas. 


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Why We Hate is a documentary series investigating why human beings show hatred towards each other. The ultimate aim of the series is positive: to unravel tension and conflict. But viewers will see many disturbing images, and content can be intense and mature. We see historical photos (a pile of human skulls, a young girl in a field of bodies after a genocide, lynched people hanging from trees, Nazi rallies), newsreel footage (street conflicts, riots, protests, the aftermath of school shootings), and videos captured by people in the midst of conflict or filmed by those intent on terrible deeds (like an excerpt from Elliot Rodgers' "manifesto" video before his shooting rampage). Such images are given context and illustrate how conflict can go awry, but they're terrible to watch anyway. Sexuality enters into some discussions of clashes, like a young man who relates how he was bullied for being trans, and members of a "hate speech" church who call gay people "fags" and says they'll "burn in hell." Language is mature and often connected to intolerance: "fag," "dyke," "tranny," "fascist," "sluts." People are called "cockroaches," and are insulted for being Mexican, gay, Jewish, Muslim. What we see may inspire compassion and empathy, and participants are frank about their experiences, even when they regret what they used to believe. Parents and kids may want to watch together, and talk over any particularly disturbing imagery or ideas, as well as the hope offered by the documentary in how to effect change. 


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byloaderfamily October 28, 2019

Timely and thought provoking

I highly recommend watching this documentary. It doesn't get it all right in my opinion; over simplifying the imbalances that drive hatred, such as, oppres... Continue reading
Adult Written byMissygirl45 October 15, 2019

Missed the mark

The show was interesting in some areas. But the show interviewed other people from other countries who spoke in their native language. This language was not tr... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bypelosismyhero December 8, 2019

Boring and afraid to address the issues...

Very boring movie that doesn't address the medias role in "choosing" what hate fits their narrative... Feels like a fake attempt to cover a real... Continue reading

What's the story?

Hatred can drive human beings to hard words and terrible deeds. But is hatred a natural and inevitable result of humanity? Or is it something we've learned to feel? WHY WE HATE takes a long look into the hearts and minds of humankind, interviewing experts on many aspects of psychology, neuroscience, and history, as well as private citizens prominently touched by acts of hatred -- and of love -- to uncover the meaning behind conflict, as well as how to disarm our minds. 

Is it any good?

In an era when it seems like political, social, and cultural thinking has never been more polarized, this smart and incisive series asks one question: Why? Does hate come from nature? Nurture? Scarce resources? Is it part of our biological imperative? In its quest to tease out the roots of the hatred that results in all manner of human conflict, Why We Hate interviews many different types of experts: an evolutionary anthropologist who talks about the difference between peaceful bonobo apes and aggressive chimpanzees. An expert in infant cognition, who talks about studies gauging the moral drives of babies. An activist who abandoned the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. Two teens who talk frankly about what it's like to be bullied -- and to bully others. 

What emerges is a fascinating portrait of the human race, both our worst qualities, and, paradoxically, our best. The worst is easy to illustrate, of course, and Why We Hate shows plenty of disturbing examples: Nazi rallies, street riots, the aftermath of genocide. But we also learn more what motivates those who lash out against others: scarce resources, insecurity, a wish to feel a part of a group, and the intense pain that's experienced by those who are left out. On a more cheering note, the series also looks into what can defuse hate. As a psychologist points out, our plastic brains can change with new experiences, and humans have the capacity for great cooperation and love. It's hard to see people treating each other terribly, even through the distance of a TV screen. But if Why We Hate has one overriding message, it's that hate isn't inevitable -- and understanding what hate is and what it means may be the first step towards unraveling it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the images of violence in Why We Hate. Are they disturbing to watch? Do any of the images surprise you? Do they help drive home this show's messages? Adults: How would you go about talking about tragedy with kids? Kids: Which is more upsetting to you -- seeing violent acts take place on screen or hearing people talk about them? Why?

  • Families can also talk about why this series was made. Is it intended to inspire change? To document a cultural phenomenon or a period of American history? What do you think were the intentions of those who made this show? 

  • How do the stories in Why We Hate inspire compassion and empathy in viewers? Why are these important character strengths?

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