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 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?