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 Good Behavior is a tense drama about a woman who has made many mistakes and is about to make more. On-screen substance abuse includes excessive drinking (followed by poor choices and a hangover with vomiting), and a character buys and smokes crack. An unsympathetic character smokes a cigarette. Violence includes a woman attempting to stop a hit man from killing someone; a man holds a loaded gun against a woman's forehead as she begs him to kill her. Murder is viewed as a solution to some problems; dead bodies are shown wrapped in plastic for disposal. A man and woman have sex soon after meeting for the first time with moaning and thrusting but no nudity. Cursing includes "s--t" and "a--hole"; "f--k" is bleeped.
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What's the story?
Letty Dobesh (Michelle Dockery) was released early from a prison sentence for GOOD BEHAVIOR, but that parole board didn't know what was coming next. With her life decimated by her past, Letty can't see much of a future. She passes the time trying to stay away from alcohol, lying to her parole officer, and committing petty thievery at a hotel where an accomplice gives her a master key. But her minor crimes lead to major ones when she overhears a man hiring hit man Javier (Juan Diego Botto) to kill his wife. Hoping to save her, Letty attempts to intercede. Before she knows it, she's in over her head with Javier, on the run, and on the road to even more trouble.
Is it any good?
Though its characters and setting read as clichéd, this crime drama scores with excellent writing and high-caliber acting. As a not-so-good woman caught in the clutch of circumstance, Dockery is electric and compelling, worlds away from Downton Abbey's superior Lady Mary. "I'm a piece of s--t," she moans after a series of twists have landed her in a cheap motel room with a supply of crack and $18,000. "Kill me," she begs of the man who's come to find her to seek revenge. "I'm not letting you off that easy," he growls back. "You work for me now." In an instant, a dreamed-of future in which Letty is clean, sober, successful, and reunited with her young son crumbles, and a new path opens up for her -- one in which she's beholden to a man who's a bringer of death and clinging to her last shreds of humanity.
Sounds depressing, and in less sure hands it could be. Instead, Good Behavior keeps you guessing as to what's coming next. You're not sure you like Letty -- and you definitely wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley -- but she's so dismally appealing that you can't help wanting to know what she'll do next.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dysfunctional characters in Good Behavior and discuss why writers so often turn to them for good material. Why is a person with serious problems a more compelling character than one with a calm, "normal" life?
Is the audience supposed to sympathize with Letty? How can you tell? How are we supposed to regard her many transgressions? How is a sympathetic character presented, and how is that different from an unsympathetic character?
Criminal enterprises are often the setting for dark dramas. What other examples can you name? How does the show keep you invested in characters who do bad things?