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 Guilt is a dark drama about a murder that takes place among a group of roommates in London. The murdered girl's body is shown repeatedly, with blood spatters, screams, a slashed throat, gory stab marks, and scary music. Women are menaced on dark streets, followed by shadowy figures as the camera advances on the woman and unsettling music plays. Young women work at an S&M club playing out sexual scenes with men who pay for this; couples have sex on-screen with moaning and thrusts (no nudity). Cursing includes "ass," "hell," and "damn." We see characters drinking beer and liquor and smoking cigarettes and from glass pipes; one character uses a drug binge as an alibi for murder.
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What's the story?
When a young American exchange student Molly Ryan (Rebekah Wainwright) is murdered after a night of clubbing in London, detectives assume that one of her flatmates must bear the GUILT. But all is not as it seems in this dark drama, where everyone has a secret to hide -- and a past they're hoping to conceal. As intrepid -- if troubled -- detectives Bruno (Cristian Solimeno) and Hall (Naomi Ryan) poke through the crime scene and the backgrounds of Molly's best friend Grace (Daisy Head), her boyfriend, Luc (Zachary Fall), and roommate Roz (Simona Brown), they're uncovering unsavory details, including Grace's stepdad's (Anthony Stewart Head) connection to an S&M club that also has degenerate royal Prince Theo (Sam Cassidy), and circumstantial evidence that connects Grace to the murder. Grace's sister Naomi (Emily Tremaine) and dissolute lawyer Stan Gutterie (Billy Zane) are trying to keep Grace out of jail. But the more the police uncover, the harder that gets.
Is it any good?
With a twisty cliffhanger-before-every-other-commercial pacing and solid acting from a mostly British cast, this drama is an apt complement to Freeform's similarly themed Pretty Little Liars. And, though they're cagey on the exact inspiration for Guilt, the setup -- a young student murdered in a foreign land with roommates with both motive and opportunity to have done the deed -- is similar enough to the notorious Amanda Knox case of 2007 that the proceedings are lent a tawdry sort of true-crime appeal. The glamorous and gorgeous actors, tantalizing settings -- especially the London club scene -- and dirty laundry are appealing, particularly to teens, who may think it looks kind of fun to be caught up in a big murder investigation overseas.
But the clichéd way the show handles the murder at the center of the action may exasperate parents and viewers of a feminist bent. Does our young murdered girl really have to have a past full of dark sexual secrets? And be shown over and over again in a pool of blood with her tiny flesh-colored dress pushed up? And is realistic that her death seemingly causes no one pain except her brother, who uses the occasion to brow-furrowedly vow revenge on his sister's killer? It's all trashy good fun but iffy, too, to make murder look like just another soapy complication. All that said, the show is well done even if it's been done before.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why so many TV dramas like Guilt focus on crime, especially murder. Why does murder make a compelling topic for drama? Why are young women most often the murder victims? How does watching violent shows or movies affect young viewers?
Teens: Do you think this series paints an accurate portrait of the lives of people in their twenties? Are the characters' troubles relatable to you? Why, or why not? What kinds of stereotypes does this show reinforce or challenge? How does what you see of teen life on TV or in movies influence your own life? Parents: Talk to teens about the role models and messages in shows such as this.
Media critics often accuse TV dramas of being exploitative: using the pain or others for profit. Is Guilt exploitative?