Collateral

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Collateral TV Poster Image
Ambitious but convoluted British crime drama is violent.

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Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Examines themes of humanitarianism, xenophobia, capitalism, and sexual abuse -- can be pretty grim.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Detective Kip Glaspie is a smart and hardworking law enforcement officer who seeks to "right wrongs," though she sometimes has to knowingly disobey her superiors to do so. She's six months pregnant, which is treated very matter-of-factly -- she's not handled with kid gloves or treated as "less than" her male counterparts.

Violence

A male military officer rapes and threatens a female subordinate. Guns are drawn on several occasions, a character is shot and killed. Another character commits suicide; we see blood on the walls after. A female character is beaten and thrown from a van, her dead body is later shown briefly. Someone is held hostage at gunpoint.

Sex

A rape scene; the male offender remains completely clothed. Shots of a woman naked in the shower (breasts and buttocks seen), and another scene where the same woman lays in bed topless, then stands in front of a window in the nude.

Language

F-bombs galore, plus some milder stuff like "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A plot point centers around a pizzeria that offers its customers deliveries with "special toppings" -- said topping being drugs, brought to their doorstep along with their dinner. Billie Piper's character frequently seen smoking and drinking alcohol. A character is found "stoned" on a sidewalk, having taken what they refer to as "Class A" drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Collateral is a four-part British crime procedural. It uses a murder investigation (we see the shooting) to delve into deeper issues of immigration, xenophobia, and sexual abuse -- and as such, the tone can be fairly heavy. There's plenty of uncensored swearing (including "f--k"), and references to being "stoned." Characters are shown smoking and drinking, and drug dealing is discussed and briefly shown (packets of drugs are smuggled to customers via a pizza delivery scheme). There are two nude scenes; a character's breasts and buttocks are exposed. A character is raped, another is beaten and thrown out of a moving van. A character is held hostage at gunpoint, and another commits suicide (the aftermath is seen: blood spatters on a wall).

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What's the story?

COLLATERAL is a British crime procedural starring Carey Mulligan (Mudbound) as no-nonsense detective Kip Glaspie, who's investigating the murder of a pizza deliveryman with her partner, Nathan (Nathaniel Martello-White). When it turns out the victim is an illegal immigrant with a violent backstory, who leaves behind two sisters who risk deportation in an increasingly isolationist, post-Brexit London -- and that the pizzeria has been delivering drugs along with their pies -- this seemingly random act uncovers a web of conspiracy that threatens to expose leaders in church, state, and military alike. John Simm (Doctor Who) appears as left-of-center MP David Mars, with Jeany Spark (Red Lights) as troubled soldier Sandrine Shaw.

Is it any good?

Though the four-part series kicks off with a murder, the killer is revealed before the first episode is through -- making this less a "whodunnit" than a "why'd they do it." Writer David Hare (The Hours) tries to maintain a suspenseful tone as the various threads unspool, but the dialogue is often clunky and full of awkward exposition, and the interconnected storylines come across as contrived instead of clever. A coincidence is one thing, but a plot wherein the MP's boozy ex-wife happens to order a pizza from the murder victim/refugee, whose death on her doorstep happens to be observed by a bystander, who happens to be in a relationship with yet another of the MP's exes ... who is a bisexual female vicar who happens to be counseling the woman who sent the murder victim out on the original pizza delivery? It's a stretch, to say the least. Collateral suffers from an overabundance of subplots that go nowhere, along with some gratuitous female nudity that feels wildly out of place in a show that simultaneously wants to convey messages about institutionalized sexism and hypocrisy. Mulligan, however, makes a great detective, bringing a wry confidence to a role that's refreshingly different from the characters we've seen her play before in period pieces like The Great Gatsby.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the political topics raised by Collateral, such as illegal immigration. Did the depiction of these issues in a British setting remind you in any way of similar issues facing the U.S.? Does it matter if someone is seeking refuge from their home country for safety-related reasons, or for economic ones?

  • Collateral was filled with intertwining plots, and characters who all had some sort of connection to one another. Did this seem realistic to you, especially in a city the size of London? Which storylines did you think were the most effective?

TV details

For kids who love mysteries

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