Deliverance Creek

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Deliverance Creek TV Poster Image
Tense, violent Civil War drama boasts strong female roles.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Strong female roles stand out, if not always for positive actions. For better or worse, the women in the story are fiercely protective of what they believe in, even to the point of breaking laws for it. A female slave challenges stereotypes, but others in her position reflect the racial inequality of the time. Greed and revenge drive many people's decisions, and morality is called into question in cases where law-abiding citizens consider the unthinkable to combat a corrupt system. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Belle's fierce courage empowers her to overcome difficult circumstances, but she's driven to desperate and morally questionable lengths to protect her family. Hattie defies expectations in her work with the Underground Railroad, risking everything for others' freedom. Kessie is self-reliant, shrewd, and fearless, despite impossible circumstances. Some of the story's male characters are decent and upstanding, but they're overshadowed by these powerful women. 

Violence

Graphic war scenes show soldiers shooting each other at close range as well as some cold-blooded killings done more for fun than necessity. In one case, a man torments an injured soldier, threatening to slice off his ear or slit his throat. In other cases, men use swords to kill. An innocent bystander is killed when he's mistaken for an enemy, and another is shot in a robbery. Two people hang from gallows as an escaped slave is whipped nearby. A surgical scene shows blood and mangled flesh as a bullet is removed. Outlaws -- and, in some cases, soldiers -- are a threatening presence within a community. A woman rebuffs a man's drunken harassment by threatening him with a pitchfork; in another scene, she shoots him in the leg.

Sex

Some kissing between adults, and, in one scene, a couple's (literal) roll in the hay almost leads to more before they're interrupted. One scene hints at an evening rendezvous between partners, but it doesn't pan out. There's mention of the town's whorehouse. 

Language

The language of the time includes references to "Injuns" and slaves calling their owners "massuh." Also: "bitch," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "hell," and "damn." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink in a saloon, and a man is said to be drunk when he tries to force himself on a female neighbor. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deliverance Creek is a Civil War period drama that doesn't hold back from the tension and uncertainty of the time. Graphic war scenes show soldiers shooting and slaying men, often close up and, at times, with a sense of enjoyment. Another scene displays a couple after they've been hanged while an escaped slave is whipped and his children watch. Lives always hang in the balance, sometimes because of morally sound choices that are in conflict with the laws of the times. Other features of the story are historically accurate but still upsetting, particularly in how slave owners speak to and treat slaves. Strong language ("bitch," "goddamn," "hell") is a concern, and a mother's loss is emotional and raw. That said, this beautifully crafted story features strong female leads who stand for their convictions even when it puts them at risk. 

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What's the story?

DELIVERANCE CREEK is a drama set in Missouri during the Civil War. Similar to many around her, Belle (Lauren Ambrose) has fallen on hard times since her husband left home to fight for the Confederacy, and two years without word from him leaves her no option but to assume he's dead. Since finding happiness with the town's deputy, Nate (Wes Ramsey), this widowed mother of three is cautiously hopeful about the future, but when a corrupt bank owner calls in the loan on her ranch, she's faced with an awful choice to save what's hers. Meanwhile, her brother, Jasper (Christopher Backus), returns to town with his band of outlaws and plans to rob a Union payroll changing hands in Deliverance Creek, drawing the suspicion of Belle's lecherous neighbor (Barry Tubb) and eventually costing Belle dearly. Her younger sister Hattie (Caitlin Custer) risks everything to support the Underground Railroad movement, which brings escaped slave Kessie (Yaani King) to Belle's home and may provide the key to her mission of revenge. 

Is it any good?

Marking the TV-producing debut of celebrated author Nicholas Sparks, Deliverance Creek is tense and dramatic, filled with impossible choices of an unimaginable time. Strong female roles dominate the story, each representing not only her singular character but also an entire group of women from this period in history. War widows, abolitionists, slaves -- each has a voice in the rich casting of these remarkable characters, and it's not hard to imagine the fictionalized circumstances being reality for some. What's more, the broader question of morality each faces in balancing what's lawful with what's morally justified in a corrupt society always has relevance. In other words, their choices may not always be legally sound, but their willingness to fight for their beliefs makes them admirable role models.

This movie's violent content and strong language make it iffy for all but the sturdiest teens, and even a few of them may find some of the scenes tough to watch. There are a lot of different stories playing out at one time as well, leaving viewers a little befuddled initially, but once all the pieces fall into place, you'll start to see how the characters and their stories relate to each other. One word of warning, though: Because this movie is prepped to pilot an eventual TV series, it leaves numerous loose ends when the credits roll.   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how women typically are portrayed on-screen. What strong female roles have made an impression on you? Do women get to embody traits such as intelligence, strength, and courage as often as men do? If not, why do you think this is?

  • A consistent theme in this story is the contrast between morality and the law. Do similar discrepancies still exist today? Is it ever justifiable to break a law? If we excuse some infractions, how can others be enforced? 

  • Do you think this show's violent content was warranted? Could the same effect have been derived from less graphic scenes? Do you think that violence in entertainment could influence some viewers' actions or tolerance toward similar events in real life? 

TV details

Themes & Topics

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