A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's focus on labor issues and capitalism brings some interesting critiques into the mix -- they may inspire interesting family conversations. On the other hand, this is a dark show with murders, torture, racism, and other terrible things, so these critiques will be best absorbed by mature viewers.
Positive Role Models
Seth is attempting to atone for past misdeeds by inserting himself between capitalists and citizen farmers, but his methods are often brutal and sometimes fatal. Female characters are given much less to do than male ones, and all but one of the women in this drama are either wives or prostitutes. There is some racial diversity in the cast, but there is also era-specific racism, with scenes featuring the Ku Klux Klan, an attempted lynching, etc. Expect to hear racist statements like one man being told his African-American companion is "dark meat."
Violence & Scariness
Violence is sporadic but is graphic and may be disturbing: A man is shot dead unexpectedly in front of his adult son; his bloodied body is carried around town by another man, who props him up in a chair and mocks his loved ones' grief. A man slices an artery in another man's leg to convince him to give information; the man bleeds out and dies, blood pooling on the floor. A man is hung up as punishment for moonshining and punched in the face and body repeatedly. A man is almost lynched for having a relationship with a black woman. A character self-harms by asking someone else to cut him repeatedly with a knife.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Much of this show's action is set at a brothel, with the workers conducting business, lounging around in lingerie, etc. A madam inspects a man's "c--k and balls" for sores by splashing Lysol on it; a man and woman have sex with moaning and thrusting and her bare backside visible. A man holds a sign up to the sex workers reading "Can't you even read, you rancid whore" to see which of them can read. A man rents a woman's services for a week; the madam asks "Will she be able to walk at the end?" and he says back "That depends on if she stays on my good side."
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Some cursing, including "f---ing," "son of a bitch," "a--hole," "s--t," "damn," "hell," "c--k," "balls," "whore," and "c--ksucker."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Prohibition is in effect, yet characters still drink at speakeasies and at home, sometimes from flasks secreted in vintage jacket pockets.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Damnation is a dark drama set in a 1930s Iowa farming community, with violence, language, mature sexual themes, and other aspects that make it best for older teens. There are many bloody deaths: shootings, stabbings, an attempted lynching. A man is shot suddenly in front of his adult son; another man carries his dead body around to upset his friends and relatives. Many scenes are set at a brothel, with lounging workers in lingerie and a madam who inspects a customer's genitals by splashing them with Lysol (no private parts are visible). A man hires a sex worker and sneers that she'd better stay on his "good side" if she wants to "walk at the end." Characters kiss in bed and have sex with moaning, thrusting, and the woman's bare backside visible. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," among other words, and sometimes has a racial or sexual tinge: "rancid whore," "dark meat." This drama is set during Prohibition but characters still drink at speakeasies and at home.
Is It Any Good?
You've seen the "two antiheroes dueling" concept at work on TV before, maybe too often, but this show's 1930s setting and periscope into Depression-era politics gives it some juice. There are wagon wheels and cloche hats, and a newspaper office filled with clacking typewriters, and brothel workers slinking around in white chemises, rifles and whisky and moonshiners. There are heroes setting their jaws in preparation for dark deeds, and women who barely speak except to draw out said heroes.
There is also, to Damnation's credit, the stereotype-busting character of Connie Nunn (Melinda Page Hamilton), a Pinkerton detective who's on the trail of our faux preacher turned labor instigator Seth. With her well-modulated voice and icy eyes, her hidden motivations and confident demands of those around her, she's a lot more interesting than the grim guys she's surrounded by -- particularly after she saunters down a forest path with a picnic basket, methodically assembles a gun, and then uses it to pick off demonstrators during a clash. What's her angle? How is she related to Creeley and Seth? Her nettling presence lends spark and fun to this show's weathered-wood-and-gray-skies aesthetic, which can sometimes veer into grimness.
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.