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 Ballers is a mature series about football and its players, including the washed-up Spencer Strasmore, played by Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock. There's near-constant cursing: four-letter words and women are referred to as "bitch" and "skank." Expect frequent sex scenes with moaning, thrusting, and visible breasts and buttocks, with clothed men and naked women. Scenes take place in bars; some women are viewed as trophies to be won and then discarded while others are strong and supportive partners. Brands, teams, and stadiums are shown and mentioned; luxury cars, houses, and women are seen as evidence of success. Brutal football clashes are shown in slow motion; men fight and yell racial slurs.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In the ensemble series BALLERS, current and former pro football players navigate life on and off the field. Retired player Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) has turned to guiding the careers of young pros, including Ricky Jerret (John David Washington), a competitive yet spiritual player who's made some mistakes. Assisting Spencer are Joe (Rob Corddry), a foul-mouthed financial advisor, and Jason (Troy Garity), a cutthroat sports agent. Meanwhile, orbiting the same planet is Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller), a retired player who's had a little trouble adapting to non-baller life; ESPN commentator (and Spencer's secret love interest) Michaels (Taylor Cole); and Tina (LeToya Luckett), the recently widowed wife of one of Spencer's best friends.
Is it any good?
Many of the beats found in Ballers will be familiar to fans of football genres: young players, flush with success, dripping in fancy cars and easy women, trying to live life to the fullest because they know full well the gravy train could screech to a stop at any time. Meanwhile, a slightly older and wiser version of those players (the effortlessly charming Johnson, natch) tries to keep things rolling along even as the reckless players get themselves into scrape after scrape. But, though the source material seems familiar, the appealing actors, zippy plotting, and snappy (yet realistic) dialogue keeps things fresh. Freshest of all: Ballers gives the wives, girlfriends, and female colleagues of the players and their agents meaty roles. When Greane comes home to tell his long-suffering wife that he's finally, finally found a job, wife Julie (Jazmyn Simon) jumps on him, squeals, starts doing a playful striptease, and teases him at the same time about her role in her husband's success: "You know you like a tough coach!" She is that, as well as a vibrant, interesting character, just as interesting as her husband and every other character on-screen. You don't have to like football to like this intriguing show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why football is such a common milieu for sports dramas. Why not tennis? Soccer? Synchronized swimming? What dramatic possibilities does football, with its vast popularity and enormous salaries, offer that other sports don't?
How is the audience supposed to feel toward the football players in this drama? Are we supposed to admire them? Relate to them? Hate them and enjoy their downfalls? How can you tell?