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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 this teen drama's themes revolve around adhering to personal values in the face of temptation, threats, and adversity. Some adults occasionally behave inappropriately and even illegally, but others are involved parents who think deeply about what people need to reach their best potential. The music from each episode is marketed at the end of the show and via the show's Web site. This could be a draw for many teens, but it might give some parents pause.
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What's the story?
In WILDFIRE, racehorse Wildfire and 18-year-old Kris Fuillo (Genevieve Cortese) are on the same path -- each of them has a troubled past, and now they're both reaching for the best in themselves. Kris' story started in juvenile hall, where she was doing time for stealing cars, until her talent with horses, especially the problematic Wildfire, got Kris placed with the Ritters, a family steeped in the world of Thoroughbred racing. Kris becomes Wildfire's jockey, and Wildfire turns out to be the Ritter family's best chance at saving the family-run ranch. Kris is so diligent about reaching for integrity and acting responsibly, but when she's confused, she turns to Jean Ritter (Nana Visitor), the stalwart single mom at the head of the Ritter family. Matt (Micah Alberti) and Todd (Andrew Hoeft) are Jean's sons; Pablo Betart (Greg Serano) trains the family's stable of racehorses. Kris' arch foe in love and horse racing is Dani (Nicole Tubiola), whose villainy is often tinged with her own struggle to be a better person.
Is it any good?
Unlike in The O.C., the melodramatic relationships and frequent smooching in Wildfire are tied together by a storyline that includes many lessons for teens. The themes here -- that everyone desrves another chance, that risk can have reward, that we are not defined by our pasts, and that family and friends pulling together can make a great difference -- definitely make Wildfire worth watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about redemption and how people overcome their pasts. How do people learn from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others? How would a person know that someone is a candidate for friendship (even if he or she has been in serious trouble in the past)? What's at risk for Kris? Why does she work so hard to get ahead when so much has been stacked against her? What behaviors show us that a person deserves our loyalty? Also, what makes a family? Is Kris part of Jean's family? Is Pablo? How does the way Dani's father treats her compare to the way Jean treats her family? What kinds of futures are all these characters building for themselves and each other?