Thursday, January 12, 2006

Frontline's "Country Boys"

PBS' "Frontline" is a national treasure. Frontline has recently ended a 3-part, 2-hour series on poverty and growing up in Appalachia called "Country Boys." Produced by the same team that did "The Farmer's Wife," this story is remarkable powerful, engaging, and real.

The stories follow two teenage boys who each have been handed troubles. One had his father shoot his stripper girlfriend at the bar, only to turn the gun on himself. The other has an alcoholic father and (my guess) a crystal meth using mother. Both share the goal of graduating from high school but due to discipline problems and learning disabilities, ended up at a private special needs school called "The David School." The David School was founded by an grad student from Brooklyn answering President Johnson's call to the war on poverty.

The insights are profound. You see able bodied whites milking the Federal social security and welfare systems. You see the alternatives to them not doing so. You see the damage drug abuse can do to an entire family. You see the value of family and people who will support you. And you see that even the most minor of financial setbacks (i.e. car breaking down) can be the difference between a future and suicide.

Most importantly, you see the desire of the human spirit to succeed and the power of strangers who care. Catch it in reruns or watch it at

Again, great work Frontline.


Thrillhous said...

I've been hearing good things about this series from a few people. I"ll have to check it out.

Otto Man said...

Frontline is consistently fantastic. Which means it'll likely be replaced by a show with Tucker Carlson in the next weeks.

TravisG said...

This program was fantastic. I might even buy it on DVD, which is not something I typically do. I live in northern Kentucky, in a city with a rather large Appalachian population, and the lifestyle depicted on Country Boys rang awfully familiar to me. Basically, the adults cannibalize their children's potential, and then the process repeats.

And, yeah, I kinda figured Chris's mom was using meth, too.

Studiodave said...

Yes, by the mom pawning the car and car payments on Chris and his desire to please her, essentially guarenteed he would never go to college - even though he had the opportunity to go free of tuition.

I was impressed that the majority of the kids understood that having kids at a young age was a guarentee of lifetime povery.

Also, the music from the show (written by Cody's father-in-law) are available for free download - not bad.