Flesh and Bone

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Flesh and Bone TV Poster Image
Nudity, drugs, casual cruelty in arresting ballet drama.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Women are shown in positions of power, but the relentless focus on looks, ability, and competition may send iffy messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Our main character is honest, brave, and true, but most of the characters are terribly cruel and openly say terrible things to and about each other. 

Violence

The camera lingers on the uglier aspects of dancing: injured toes (including toenails that fall off), bruised bodies, the bones of dancers starved to skeletal proportions. 

Sex

Frequent sex scenes with moaning and thrusting; breasts visible. In other scenes, including many in a strip club, bare breasts and backsides (always female) seen at great length. Female dancers refer casually to providing sex for advancement; a young male dancer has sex with his boss (no nudity); many references to prostitution and sex. 

Language

Frequent cursing: "f--k," "s--t," "damn." Women are called "bitches" and "c--t." Vulgar references to male and female anatomy, prostitution, oral sex, sex provided for consideration in the ballet company. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many dancers are addicted to cocaine; we see them buying and snorting it. Scenes take place in bars; characters drink cocktails and champagne at parties. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flesh and Bone is a gritty drama about a troubled young dancer who joins a competitive dance troupe in New York City. There's a wide variety of content that's not suited to younger teens, even though they may be interested in dance. Fellow dancers snort cocaine on-screen; they buy drugs and drink wine and cocktails on-screen. There are frequent references to female dancers providing sexual favors (especially oral sex) for advancement in the troupe; a high-ranking dancer has sex with another male dancer on-screen (no nudity), with thrusting and moaning. There's also a lot of nudity, with scenes set in strip clubs and sex scenes with movements and noises and bare female bodies (breasts and backsides). Dancers refer to disordered eating practices frequently, and their bodies are criticized. Members of the troupe are fiercely competitive and say terrible things to and about each other, and they use trickery to get their way. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySadman December 23, 2015

Adults only. Not for kids.

Basically an attempt to replicate the Black Swan formula of "the dark side of ballet" for TV, this is show is far too sexual for kids. Even open-minde... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byizzybella524 December 29, 2015

Dark, sexual and addictive

Well dang. This story is terrifying yet you can't stop watching. I honestly shouldn't have watched it because it's truly not ok for kids. I'... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the dark ballet drama FLESH AND BONE, troubled yet talented dancer Claire (Sarah Hay) has run away from her dysfunctional family in Pittsburgh and been accepted into a leading New York City ballet company. But, despite this triumph, her troubles have only just begun. Her new roommate Mia (Emily Tyra) is furiously jealous of Claire's quick success and determined to bring it to an end, as is the company's top ballerina, Kiira (Irina Dvorovenko), who fears Claire may be pushing her out of her spot. The company's director Paul (Ben Daniels) alternately praises and punishes Claire. Worst of all, Claire's terrifying, abusive brother Bryan (Josh Helman) is looking for her.

Is it any good?

Beautifully shot and acted and intriguingly written, this drama enchants, even though the first reaction of most parents will be to hope neither their daughters nor sons become pro ballet dancers. Absolutely no one on-screen looks like they're having a good time -- not Claire, who trembles like a frightened deer, not any of the dancers who flash her jealous looks and whisper (not so quietly) about her in the practice studio, and certainly not the company's director, beset by difficulties both financial and personal.

Yet they're awfully interesting to watch, these thin, intense people who appear gracefully weightless onstage, yet offstage lead lives of quiet misery. Creator Moira Walley-Beckett was herself a Claire-like young dancer, and it shows; this drama is uncommonly wise in the ways a naive, frightened young girl might feel and how she might be able to stretch and grow once she rids herself of some past baggage. It's emotionally ugly -- and definitely unsuitable for kids -- but the ugliness compels and rings true. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the dance movies and TV shows they've seen. How is Flesh and Bone different? How is it similar to what you've seen before? Which dance-movie conventions can you spot in Flesh and Bone

  • Flesh and Bone is written by a female ballet dancer. When you watch the show, do you perceive it as coming from an insider's or outsider's point of view? Does writer Moira Walley-Beckett's background in dance make this show seem more authentic? 

  • Why are the characters in dance movies so unkind to each other? Is it realistic? What other industries do you know about in which participants compete so fiercely? 

TV details

For kids who love intense drama

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