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 this dark sci-fi series centers on a genetically engineered superhuman who fights crime, but is very violent in the process. Bred as a superior fighting machine, the main character grew up without a strong moral compass and now attempts to live a "good" life. However, as she fights crime she also participates in it -- stealing, fighting, shooting guns, and bribing authority figures. Frequent flashbacks to Max's childhood in a military compound add a disturbing element that might upset sensitive viewers. Also, expect some strong language ("ass," "bitch").
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What's the story?
At the age of 9, Max Guevera (Jessica Alba), a genetically engineered superhuman, escapes from the military compound where she's been held for her entire life. Ten years later, Max is squatting in post-apocalyptic Seattle, where she blends in as a bike messenger. After meeting cyber journalist Logan Cale, Max partners with him to combat injustices while trying to discover her real identity -- and her "siblings," who also escaped from the compound.
Is it any good?
DARK ANGEL creator James Cameron offers a richly imagined view of a post-apocalyptic near future where the world has been thrown into chaos thanks to a terrorist bomb. Alba's character Max, who has been genetically enhanced by shady governent agents to become a superior fighting machine shows real development over the course of the series, growing into a better friend and more moral person. As more information about Max's enhancements roll out, viewers are treated to a richer portrait of the main character, learning exactly how and why she acts as she does. While definitely part of the "girls kick ass" school of TV dramas (see Alias and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Max's sensitive, introspective side also emerges as the series progresses.
While the dialogue sometimes falls flat, overall the show is well-scripted and well acted, and Alba does an excellent job of carrying the series. Dark Angel isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is compelling television that teen sci-fi fans will enjoy. Younger kids, especially those who are particularly concerned about real-life terrorism, may find the series unsettling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence. If Max is using violence to combat violence is she any better than the people she is working to defeat? Why or why not? Do the ends justify the means?
How does the show develop tension or a sense of fear? Does the use of children change your reaction to tense scenes? Do real-life concerns about terrorism make this show more powerful?
Action series frequently used to portray women as weak and helpless, but in recent years there have been many shows in which the female characters are as tough as any guy. What do you think of this shift?
For kids who love strong girls
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