Review

  • I first viewed "Surviving" when it aired on the ABC Television Network in the winter of 1985. The network was so confident with the film's final version and the importance of its subject matter (teen suicide) that it aired in a 3-hour time slot, which was rather unusual for an original TV movie not based on a novel.

    "Surviving" (which is a better, simpler title than when it re-aired as "Surviving: A Family in Crisis", when there were 2 families in crisis -- and when it was released on VHS as "Tragedy", which sounds very cheap, exploitive and hopeless and doesn't give an indication of the after-effects of suicide on families and friends) occasionally lingers into soap opera hysterics and contrived plot devices. But the strong ensemble cast gave such fine performances and the well-edited, pivotal sequence when the parents of one of the teens tries to save them, made the movie a heartbreaking experience.

    "Surviving" becomes a stronger drama when the families try to make sense of losing their loved ones. That is what makes "Surviving" a very good (not great) family drama.