Graceland TV Poster Image

Graceland

(i)

 

Twisty drama with guns, drugs rises above hokey premise.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In a dangerous profession, working together is critical for survival. But there's also an overarching theme of duplicity and dishonesty that's part of the job and, in turn, makes for a complicated code of ethics.

Positive role models

There's a prevailing sense of camaraderie among the team, and members have to work together to protect themselves. (That said, although men and women work as equals, the female characters feel like more of an afterthought.) The agents have to lie as part of their undercover work; but for some, the lies go beyond the job.

Violence

The main characters carry weapons as part of their jobs. Violent scenes involve gun battles, shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, and death.

Sex

Some sexual tension between male and female characters who work together.

Language

Occasional words like "damn," "ass," etc.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many cases involve illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroine, and marijuana. Some scenes show drug paraphernalia in use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Graceland deals with the world of violent crime, although its focus is firmly on the "good guys" who try to stop it. Most characters carry weapons as part of their jobs, so you'll see some violent shootouts and blood, with a few dead bodies. Several cases also deal with the illegal drug trade, so you'll see cocaine, heroine, marijuana, and some characters using drug paraphernalia. Language is limited to gateway terms like "damn" and "ass," and there's some light sexual tension between male and female characters who work together.

What's the story?

When rookie FBI agent Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) leaves Quantico for his first real assignment at GRACELAND -- a decked-out beach house that doubles as HQ for undercover FBI, DEA, and U.S. Customs agents -- he finds a tight-knit group of new roommates who love to surf and a mysteriously Zen mentor in senior agent Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata). But as Mike gradually adapts to living life undercover, he learns that secrets and lies are all relative.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

It might sound like a description for the next season of The Real World, but Graceland's premise is, in fact, supposed to be taken seriously. Or at least that's what we gather from the gritty overtones of this borderline ridiculous crime drama that at least gets points for creativity. The fact that the beach house got its name thanks to its former owner, a drug lord who was obsessed with Elvis, is mere icing on the cake of crazy.

On the plus side, the largely unknown cast (including Brandon Jay McLaren, whom kids might recognize as the Red SPD Power Ranger) has good chemistry -- although the female characters feel comparatively flat. But the real draw is the plot twist that sets the stage for a gripping game of cat and mouse. That takes place, of course, at the beach.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's premise and how realistic -- or unrealistic -- it is. Is it possible Graceland was inspired by actual events, or is the concept of undercover agents living together in a swanky beachfront villa entirely too fictional to believe?

  • How does violence play into the action? To what degree does the criminal activity on Graceland reflect the nature and frequency of real-world crime?

  • How do these characters stack up as role models? What about a character like Briggs, whose mysterious past and loose definition of "the truth" cast doubt on his motivations? Do the female characters seem as strong as their male counterparts do onscreen?

TV details

Cast:Aaron Tveit, Daniel Sunjata, Vanessa Ferlito
Network:USA
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Graceland was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byHeq073198 July 22, 2013

More Aaron Tveit!

I never would have been attracted to watching this show if it weren't for my attraction to Aaron Tveit. After falling in love with him in Les Mis, I couldn't resist sneaking a peek. I wasn't dazzled, but I wasn't abhorred either. It has its hokey moments, but it also has its watchable ones. And of course every episode ends with a confusing cliffhanger that has me wanting closure. There is also a constant use of "sh*t" that this review seems to be myopic to. Graceland isn't one of the greats, but adds a little spice to dull summer TV.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byJennasMagic July 10, 2014

Amazing and filled with plot twists.

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byandyetsofar July 12, 2016

Very Dark, But Addictive!

This show is very good, well acted and very engaging. It is fascinating to see how light and fun many of the scenes are that take place inside the house, compared to how dark and dangerous the scenes are when the characters are on the job. The cast is very diverse and have good chemistry. However, it is not for anyone. There is quite a bit of drug use, characters who are high, and violence, due to the nature of the character's jobs. In the third season an important story arc revolves around a main character who gets addicted to painkillers. To be fair, in general the show portrays drug use in a negative light, and does not shy away from showing how using drugs destroys the characters' lives and hurts people around them. The language is on par with that of a PG-13 movie, with S--- used often as well as other curses, but no clearly audible F-bombs. There are several sex scenes (no nudity) implied sex and sexual references. The agents deal with a sex trafficking ring in the second season. Shirtless men (sometimes in nothing but underwear), and a few scenes where women are naked (however any sensitive parts are covered.) In the third season a man's bare buttocks are seen for a moment. The show addresses moral ambiguity by asking the question 'If we do questionable/illegal things to catch bad people, are we any better than then?' Sometimes the characters make bad decisions in the heat of trying to stop criminals. Another highly explored topic is that of family, as the agents grow close together in the first season, however their bonds are tested in the second and third. The characters are also very smart and think creatively, so therefore sometimes characters motives and plotlines are hard to follow. Often its positive messages are written between the lines, and require some afterthought to get the full effect of. However, despite all of these things, Graceland is a very well-written, very engaging show that I highly recommend, but only to parents and kids who can handle its themes and follow its story.

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