Review: Beyond Scared Straight follows in the footsteps of Arnold Shapiro’s Academy Award and multiple Emmy-winning documentary “Scared Straight!,” and places juvenile delinquents face to face with some of the most hardened criminals that are currently incarcerated in the prison system. The show also gives viewers a home an up close and personal look at some of the horrific acts and situations that take place within these institutions, as a viewer I was nervous just sitting in my living room, I can not imagine how those juveniles felt being there in the flesh. It’s like feeding them to the wolves, and believe us, after seeing how some of these kids were behaving prior to their trip to the prison, they deserved every moment of their time spent in the facility.
The first episode focuses on a group of teenage girls that are sent to spend time at the women’s prison in Chowchilla, CA. The show does an excellent job of filling in the viewer about each girls back-story before throwing us into the actual confrontations between the inmates and the girls. It is truly fascinating to watch the physical and emotional transformations that happen with these girls during their time spent with the inmates. Most of them were very spoiled, mouthy, and belligerent and once they came to face to face (literally) with the inmates you could watch the smirks and stubborn stances vanish. These girls were knocked down quite a few pegs and taught a few good lessons about respect. While the yelling and the confrontations, the scare tactics of the show so to say are a big part of it’s appeal, the show also slows things down a notch and the girls are paired off individually with an inmate that committed a crime similar to theirs so that they can interact, compare stories, and try to find a way to break the chain and create better circumstances for themselves so they can avoid ending up in jail.
The premise for this show works out well, and I am very curious to see how the rest of the season will play out, as we meet new sets of delinquents and inmates each week. While the subject matter may be a bit abrasive and slightly controversial, it is definitely real and makes for the true definition of “reality tv”, which is something we definitely need to see more of, less fluff and more grit. Score for A&E!
For information about “Beyond Scared Straight” click here!
Check out a 30 min sneak peek of the premiere episode! Click here!