What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this show is about a family with four kids in their teens and 20s who've spent most their lives mired in crime. As a result, characters lie, steal, blackmail others, and evade the police when necessary. But, on the plus side, there are usually consequences for their criminal behavior -- like the father's five-year jail sentence. Expect some moments of sudden violence (mostly punching and kicking, although some characters carry weapons) and some relatively mild swearing ("damn," "friggin'," etc.). Sexual content can get a bit steamy, with simulated intercourse, bare male torsos, and women wearing lingerie. There's also some social drinking, in addition to at least one dangerous situation involving a drug slipped into a drink.
What's the story?
Based on the hit New Zealand series Outrageous Fortune, SCOUNDRELS follows a family of career criminals who are trying to go straight ... but may not be able to break old habits. When longtime scammer Wolf West (David James Elliott) gets sent to the slammer for five years, his wife, Cheryl (Virginia Madsen), is faced with single parenthood -- and the realization that the family desperately needs to turn over a new leaf. Three of her children -- Cal (Patrick John Flueger), Heather (Leven Rambin), and Hope (Vanessa Marano) -- have learned the ways of the "family business," but Cheryl is determined to teach them better behavior. Good thing she's got another one to set a good example: her newly minted lawyer son -- and Cal's twin -- Logan.
Is it any good?
Scoundrels isn't the first dramatic series to explore the inner workings of a criminal family, and fans of far-superior predecessors like The Sopranos, Weeds, and The Riches will quickly conclude that it isn't the best, either. Aside from the hokey Cain and Abel dynamic between bad son Cal and good son Logan (both are played by Flueger, wearing different wigs and various stages of facial hair), there's something in the series' tone -- an odd mix of drama and desperate comedy -- that makes it seem like it's trying too hard.
Neal McDonough (Minority Report, Desperate Housewives) was originally slated to play family patriarch Wolf West but was hastily replaced (reportedly because he had a moral objection to filming sex scenes with Madsen on camera). Although Scoundrels might have been a better series with him in place, his absence alone doesn't explain its shortcomings.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the show's message when it comes to crime. Does it glorify the Wests' bad behavior or seem to support their rehabilitation?
Do the Wests' two cardinal rules -- that they never invade people's homes and never resort to violence -- somehow make them less threatening than other criminals? Do the Wests believe themselves to be harmless?
Do you think Cheryl is a good role model when it comes to parenting? Why or why not? Do her children face consequences for their actions? Will Wolf's attitudes undermine her efforts to turn the family around?