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 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?