A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Arrow is a tense action-adventure series that's loosely based on a DC Comics story about a castaway survivor who returns to his hometown to make up for his past sins by taking revenge on the criminals who plague his city. His weapon of choice is a bow and arrow (hence his moniker), but he's also adept with other weapons and in hand-to-hand combat, so there's a lot of fighting/violence in the show. Main characters die over the course of the show, sometimes shockingly, and their deaths become further crime-fighting motivation. Viewers will also see teen drug use (mostly implied by handling or buying the stuff), drinking, and suggestions of sex. That said, it's notable that the romantic relationship at the heart of the show is one that was damaged by the main character's long-ago act of cheating, and his desire to make up for his mistake helps fuel his vigilantism. Though his actions are in defense of innocent victims, and he chooses his marks carefully, the concept of taking justice into your own hands is an iffy one -- and one of many topics that parents can discuss with teens after watching.
What's the story?
When shipwrecked castaway Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is discovered on a remote island after a five-year absence, his family and friends celebrate his miraculous return but quickly sense that there's something drastically different about the former billionaire playboy. Little do they know that Oliver has set his sights on cleaning up his hometown of Starling City to make up for his former wild ways, to fulfill his father's dying confession, and hopefully to win back the heart of his former girlfriend, Laurel (Katie Cassidy). Under the cover of darkness and the cloaked alter-ego he creates for himself, ARROW plots revenge on the city's corruptors, all the while keeping up pretenses during the day with his mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson); his younger sister, Thea (Willa Holland); his best friend, Tommy (Colin Donnell); and his dutiful bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey). But Oliver's not the only one keeping secrets, and those he trusts most might be the biggest threat of all.
Is it any good?
CW hits the mark with this thrilling, suspenseful series centering on a modern-day superhero who could likely hold his own in a duel with just about any comic-book hero. As superheroes go, Arrow ranks high on appeal thanks to a secretive double life, a genuine desire to oust the bad guys, and a heartwarming affection for the people he cherishes most. He's also easy on the eyes, and his "superpowers" are learned (and thus achievable) skills rather than a supernatural gift (like flying), but it's the subtleties of his personality and his compassion for humanity that are his greatest attributes.
Even so, Arrow/Oliver isn't a faultless hero, and his methods raise some interesting, relevant issues. Who should decide the punishment for crimes? Is violence ever the answer? When, if ever, is it forgivable to take justice into your own hands? Oliver's decision, after killing villains in the show's first season, to dispatch bad guys without snuffing out their lives, is another rich topic for discussion. Granted, Starling City (later called Star City) is an extreme example of the socioeconomic fallout from concentrated power and wealth, but there are some parallels to current events, and with a little effort from parents, this dark series could shed some light for teens on the possible effects of certain financial and judicial practices.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the justice system. Does our court system do an adequate job of punishing the guilty and exonerating the innocent? Are the checks and balances enough that no one has too much power within the system and therefore can corrupt it?
Teens: Does our society present fair options for success to everyone? How does a person's socioeconomic status influence their future potential? Is race a factor as well?
How does Arrow stack up against the big-hitter superheroes? Do you think his story is worthy of the big screen? Why or why not? Do you prefer the Arrow of the first season, who kills villains without remorse, or the gentler Arrow of later seasons?
Themes & Topics
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