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 this follow up to British detective series Life on Mars has some intense content. Suspects and officers are shown being violently kicked, punched, and shot at, and explosions are frequent. There's also occasional nudity (bare buttocks) and simulated sex acts, and officers drink and smoke frequently (suspects are shown dealing cocaine). Language includes some salty British slang, as well as words like "hell" and "screwed." Although the behavior featured here is a little bit more "PC" than the original '70s-set series, male police officers still rough up suspects and exhibit lots of sexist behavior toward their female coworkers.
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What's the story?
ASHES TO ASHES, the sequel to the popular British crime drama Life on Mars, stars Keeley Hawes as Alex Drake, an ambitious, outspoken modern-day single mom/London detective who wakes up in the year 1981 after being kidnapped and shot. She soon discovers that she's now working with the infamous -- and rather insufferable -- Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), who's been transferred to London from Manchester thanks to his unapologetically rough but successful tactics. Now living in a time when the police are unpopular and drug trafficking is rampant, Drake must learn to rely on very basic crime-solving technology and a brand new team, including Hunt's loyal Detective Sergeant Ray Carling (Dean Andrews), Detective Constable Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster), and Woman Police Constable Shaz Granger (Monserrat Lombard). But even as she diligently works cases, she never stops trying to figure out how to get back to her life -- and her daughter.
Is it any good?
Like its predecessor, this multifaceted series subtly follows the life of Gene Hunt as seen through the eyes of others (although Alex Drake is the "face" of the series, Hunt is the key returning character from Life on Mars), with the decade's significant cultural and political moments serving as the backdrop of his story. It successfully meshes poignant moments and subtle humor by combining the realities of 1980s British politics with the colorful glam culture the decade was known for. The show also borders on the surreal as plotlines from the present and the past come together, with simple crime solving scenes transforming into visually and psychologically abstract moments.
It's all pretty edgy, and it may not be the kind of thing that you want your tweens and younger teens to watch. Although a lot of the humor may go over young kids' head, there's plenty of violence, strong language, sexual content, and smoking (common in British series). But for older teens and adults looking for some sophisticated entertainment, it's a great choice.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what life was like in the 1980s. How does the media depict life during that era? What kinds of things have changed over the years? What hasn't? Families can also discuss why behavior that was socially acceptable in the past is no longer OK. Do you think that people's attitudes about things like sexism and civil rights have changed over the years, or are there simply more laws that regulate things like harassment and police brutality? How do attitudes and laws governing these behaviors vary from country to country?