What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beauty and the Beast is a romantic police procedural that puts a modernized spin on the classic fairy tale. As in many police procedurals, dead bodies and crimes are seen on screen, plus murder, gunplay, and hand-to-hand combat, frequently involving main character Catherine "Cat" Chandler (Kristin Kreuk), who has street-fighting skills and uses them often. But almost no gore or blood is shown. Cat is frequently in jeopardy, watched and followed by both a bunch of menacing military baddies and Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan), the "Beast" of the show's title. Keller has been watching over Cat for years, which sends the iffy message that stalking is OK if it's true love. Vincent frequently also has to save Cat from danger, which undercuts Cat's supposed competence as a police officer. Characters also drink and refer jokingly to drugs and casually to sex, as when Cat's detective partner suggests she "hook up" with a suspect to get inside information. There's some mild cursing ("damn," "hell") and other coarse language ("you have a blind spot for douches," one character tells another).
What's the story?
In a modernized telling of the classic fairy tale, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST stars Kristin Kreuk as Catherine "Cat" Chandler, a detective who was shattered when her mother was murdered by gun-wielding psychos a decade ago. Cat herself would have been next, but she was saved by a mysterious beast-like human, though no one believes her story. Now she's a tough, big-city homicide officer, and while investigating a case with her partner, Tess Vargas (Nina Lisandrello), Cat uncovers evidence that handsome doctor Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan), reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002, is still alive and connected to a series of crimes. Cat investigates and discovers that Keller is not only still alive, in hiding for the last 10 years, but is afflicted with a strange disorder: Every time he gets angry, he turns into an unstoppable beast. Oh, and he's being chased by the same bad guys who killed Cat's mother. So Cat and Vincent join together in secret to solve crimes and put together the puzzle pieces of a conspiracy that embroils them both. Falling in love would complicate things immensely, but Cat and Vincent can't help themselves.
Is it any good?
Shadows, secrecy, and spy subplots really liven up a romance, as Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman showed us in the late '80s when Beauty and the Beast was first recast as a TV romance/thriller. Unfortunately, the CW's take on Beauty and the Beast lacks the gothic frills of the '80s version, which gained a lot of atmosphere from the subterranean sanctuary in which the Beast lived. The updated Beauty takes place in an anonymous big city, with plot points and settings that will remind you more of Law & Order than Grimm's fairy tales.
Nonetheless, the cast has good chemistry, even if some of the leads are overly pretty. (C'mon, a pair of female detectives on a metropolitan police force who are both model-hot and look to be maybe 30 each? That's television for you. ...) At least Kreuk and Ryan, as Cat and Vincent, work up some decent heat together. Teens may love the show's overwrought, dramatic romance, though parents may want to watch with them to discuss any issues that arise. For instance, tough cop Cat needs saving pretty frequently. What message does that send? Did the makers of Beauty update the setting and forget to work on the tired old "helpless woman needs a strong man" trope?
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why Cat, supposedly a strong and effective police officer, so often saved by Vincent. Why is it usually women in jeopardy in the media and men acting as the heroes? What message does that send?
Have you seen other versions of Beauty and the Beast? How does the Beast look in other renditions? Why do you think the makers of this version chose to portray Vincent as an extremely handsome man with a few token scars? Does that detract from the lesson that looks don't matter in true love?
Do you think Beauty and the Beast is a romance? A thriller? A drama? What elements of the lighting, costumes, dialogue, setting or score bring you to your conclusion?