A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The mobsters in this period drama make their own luck, whether that means heisting a shipment of liquor when the opportunity arises or cheating anyone foolish enough to do business with them. The established mob bosses and the younger thugs are all on the make and will double-cross anyone to make a buck if they think they can get away with it.
Positive Role Models
"Nucky" Thompson is a civic leader who gives lectures to temperance societies about the evils of drink ... but is also a huge mob boss who runs Atlantic City and the booming liquor-smuggling business. He's violent and crafty, but also fiercely loyal to his friends.
Violence & Scariness
Mobsters threaten -- and sometimes kill -- people with guns or just beat them with their bare hands. People get shot in the head at close range, on-screen, and/or get pummeled severely. Some scenes of domestic violence, with husbands beating their wives.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some scenes featuring full-frontal nudity and loud, vigorous sex.
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Near-constant swearing, including "s--t," "ass," "c--ksucker," "piss," and just about every variation of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The series takes place during Prohibition, so there are many scenes that show people smuggling and consuming liquor. Some people get quite drunk. Characters also smoke frequently, which is accurate for the period.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that HBO's mature period drama focuses on an Atlantic City mob boss during Prohibition, when making alcohol illegal created a booming business in smuggling. So not only do people drink frequently on the series, but much of the story revolves around making, transporting, and selling alcohol as well. The characters are quick to anger and not above-double crossing each other, and there's plenty of graphic violence when deals go bad (including people getting badly beaten and being shot in the head on screen). They're a rough and dangerous crowd: They smoke, swear constantly, and have sex (sometimes loudly, with full-frontal nudity).
Is It Any Good?
Boardwalk Empire revolves around Thompson, and Buscemi, as always, makes the character fascinating to watch. But Thompson, a mob boss with a soft side, isn't an especially novel character. We've seen men like this many times before, who will brutally beat up a man who shows disrespect but stop to show kindness to people in need. The action in this show comes from the side deals, as Thompson's rival and underlings jostle for a piece of the action. For Scorcese and Terrance Winter, a veteran Sopranos scriptwriter, this kind of plotting is irresistible -- these are men who know how to bring gangsters to the screen.
Nucky's driver, Jimmy (Michael Pitt), offers some of the more interesting scheming. Recently returned from World War I, he's eager to make up for his years wasted in the trenches and is always looking for ways to get ahead. His sometime partner-in-crime is another hoodlum trying to get ahead, a young Al Capone who sometimes drives in from Chicago. But these are just some of the many stories that weave through the series. Perhaps the real story is Atlantic City, so very carefully reconstructed here to show off a unique time and place.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.