Television Shows and Movies that Teach Cultural Differences

As a life long learner and educator I am constantly seeking ways to learn and educate. Many years ago, myself and another colleague created a diversity training session using the television show “Lost”. At the time, “Lost” was one of the hottest shows on television. We used the concept of “the others” to teach individuals about cross cultural differences. Since we developed this presentation I have drawn from other movies and shows for education. I have listed some of my top movies and televisions shows that can be used as great diversity education tools.

Higher Learning (1995)

Higher Learning

People from all different walks of life encounter racial tension, rape, responsibility, and the meaning of an education on a university campus. (This is probably the movie that I have referenced the most.)


The following are additional shows that I have used along with some recommendations from my social media connections.

All movie information is provided via

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Breakfast Club

Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention where they pour their hearts out to each other and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Hollywood Shuffle

An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African- American actors in Hollywood.

Pleasantville (1998)


Two 1990’s teenagers find themselves in a 1950’s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans

The true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school football team during their first season as a racially integrated unit.

Lost (TV Series 2004–2010)

Lost TV Show
The survivors of a plane crash are forced to live with each other on a remote island, a dangerous new world that poses unique threats of its own.

Happy Feet (2006)

Happy Feet

Into the world of the Emperor Penguins, who find their soul mates through song, a penguin is born who cannot sing. But he can tap dance something fierce!

X-Men (2000)


Two mutants come to a private academy for their kind whose resident superhero team must oppose a terrorist organization with similar powers.

X2 (2003)
The X-Men band together to find a mutant assassin who has made an attempt on the President’s life, while the Mutant Academy is attacked by military forces.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
When a cure is found to treat mutations, lines are drawn amongst the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier, and the Brotherhood, a band of powerful mutants organized under Xavier’s former ally, Magneto.

X-Men: First Class (2011)
In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of Mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start World War III.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Caesar

During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a genetically enhanced chimpanzee uses its greater intelligence to lead other apes to freedom.

Additional Recommendations from my Social Media Connections

The Joy Luck Club (1993)
The life histories of four Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.

Dangerous Minds (1995)
An ex-marine teacher struggles to connect with her students in an inner-city school.

American History X (1998)
A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

The Believer (2001)
A young Jewish man develops a fiercely anti-Semitic worldview. This movies is based on the true story of a KKK member in the 1960s who was revealed to be Jewish by a New York Times reporter.

Spider Man (2002)
When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family.

The Laramie Project (2002)
The true story of an American town in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Crash (2004)
Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters

Freedom Writers (2007)
A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.

Sin Nombre (2009)
Honduran teenager Sayra reunites with her father, an opportunity for her to potentially realize her dream of a life in the U.S. Moving to Mexico is the first step in a fateful journey of unexpected events.

Feel free to share your thoughts and additional movie recommendations. Contact me if you are interested in how I have drawn from any of the above shows.

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