A Gifted Man

TV review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
A Gifted Man TV Poster Image
Smart supernatural drama involves mature themes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Themes of redemption, spirituality, and helping others run throughout the series as the main character learns to better understand and care about the world around him.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The series resists easy and trite paths toward redemption for its characters; while they do learn lessons and alter their behavior, they still demonstrate weak moments and blind spots, making them flawed but still worthy of respect. The lead character begins the series as a self-centered, egotistical jerk; the show does an effective job of demonstrating slow and realistic positive transformation.

Violence

While violence is occasionally an aspect of an episode, the stories are rarely dominated by violent acts, and conflicts are rarely resolved by violence.

Sex

The series centers on the relationship between a former couple and their affection for one another. Occasional suggestive conversation between characters; sex is implied.

Language

Words like "damn" and "hell" and occasional use of language like "numbnuts."

Consumerism

Frequent placement of familiar consumer electronics technology at key moments in the story, including Apple's iPad and big-screen televisions. Products are not referenced by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Plots occasionally center on drug dealers or users; the drinking and drugging lifestyle of a supporting character is key to his story. Characters drink and smoke socially, with occasional overindulgence

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this supernatural drama has a mature tone and deals with subjects that likely won't interest most teens. The supernatural elements (visits from a ghost) are subdued and don't involve any moments of disturbing imagery. While the show's plotting and themes are adult in nature, there isn't much in the way of sexuality or violence (though plots occasionally involve the results of violence). A secondary character uses and abuses drugs and alcohol.

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What's the story?

In A GIFTED MAN, the titular character is Dr. Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson), known for his talent as a gifted neurosurgeon. He comes to realize that he possesses a far more unusual "gift" when his dead ex-wife, Anna (Jennifer Ehle), appears to him as a ghost and begins offering instructions on how to help the patients at the inner-city free clinic she founded. Michael must come to terms with the presence of this ghostly apparition even as he deals with the ways in which she upends his life and encourages him to overcome his selfish, cold behavior.

Is it any good?

A Gifted Man is certainly a series with an extraordinary pedigree -- executive producer Jonathan Demme is an Oscar-winning director, and star Wilson has been nominated for Emmy and Tony awards. The talent on hand keeps this high-concept drama from becoming too cliche too frequently. The story of a cold, distant, brilliant surgeon who learns to care again from the ghost of his dead ex-wife has the potential to be incredibly cheesy, but the series avoids maudlin missteps, thanks largely to the talented cast and crew.

 

It bears repeating -- A Gifted Man is saddled with a concept that has Hallmark Movie of the Week written all over it. But as Michael Holt, Wilson remains edgy and irascible even when confronted with the opportunity to repent and do the right thing. His relationship with his spectral ex is played with complexity as well; the idea that he could be suffering a brain-induced hallucination isn't left entirely off the table. By finding the moments of reality in an unreal premise, A Gifted Man rises above its high-concept peers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's characters. Did you notice anything stereotypical about them? Anything unexpected?

  • Do the show's supernatural elements help or hinder the story's emotional impact? How does the use of the supernatural compare to other series'?

  • Does this show avoid cliches and sentimentality? If so, how does it manage to steer clear of these elements? Or, if not, what makes it fall victim?

TV details

For kids who love dramas

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