Hard Sun

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Hard Sun TV Poster Image
Great sci-fi premise, bloody violence in overstuffed drama.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

In this downbeat drama, justice is murky and those entrusted to care for the health and safety of citizens can't be trusted. Iffy messages with violence that seem to disproportionately target women, and a camera that lingers over blood and gore. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elaine painted as the most heroic character; too bad she had to be given a history of abuse, which here comes off as a clichéd reason for her toughness. Charlie is a corrupt police officer yet a dedicated family man who only occasionally does the right thing. Other cast members don't have much to do since there are so many competing storylines. 

Violence

Surprisingly brutal violence: an eye gouging, spraying blood from a hammer murder (the impact takes place offscreen), a woman doused with gasoline and set alight, a man falling from a high window as he screams and writhes in terror in the air, a throat slit, a man shot in the back of the head, a nail driven into an eyeball, etc., etc. The camera lingers on blood and gore, including one scene in which a naked dead woman is shown at length. 

Sex

A couple kisses and heads for the bedroom; other sexual references are typically in a criminal justice context, like when a cop discusses how there's no semen at the scene of a man who supposedly committed suicide after downloading "kiddie porn." A dead woman shown nude lying on her stomach on a bed, with camera panning down her body, lingering on her bloody hand. 

Language

Curses and iffy language infrequent, includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k" (used as an insult), "wee" (referring to urinating). 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man in emotional distress drinks from a bottle of whiskey. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hard Sun is a series set in London where two detectives have uncovered what could be proof of a looming worldwide apocalypse. This show's startling violence is its most alarming aspect, with people shot, stabbed, set aflame, thrown out of windows, gouged in the eyes, beaten with police batons, and bludgeoned with hammers. The camera lingers on dead bodies and blood and gore, such as when it shows a nude murdered woman at length lying on her bed. A man falling from a great height twists in the air and screams as he falls; he's then shown crumpled in a tree. Characters are in constant mortal danger; an upsetting subplot involves a mentally ill son who attempts to murder his mother. A couple kisses before heading to the bedroom, presumably for sex; a scene in a crime investigation involves detectives looking for signs that a man masturbated to "kiddie porn." A distressed man drinks from a bottle of whiskey. Cursing is infrequent and confined to the odd use of "f--k" and "s--t," but people also call each other "d--ks."

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What's the story?

A looming apocalyptic disaster is at the center of the action on HARD SUN -- and detectives Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess) and Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) had the sheer bad luck to stumble upon both proof that humanity has just a few years left, and the British government conspiracy attempting to hush that information up. Now Hicks and Renko have to live with their state secrets as they attempt to shield the people they love most from harm (for as long as they can, anyway), while protecting the rest of London from the bad actors who cross their path. Renko and Hicks make a terrible team. But they're going to have to find a way to work together if they want to even make it to the end of the world. 

Is it any good?

There's an intriguing sci-fi premise at the center of this overstuffed drama -- a drawn-out doomsday scenario -- but competing stories pull the focus and aren't nearly as interesting. In just six episodes, major plot points include: a big bad government conspiracy attempting to cover up the impending destruction of humanity, a serial killer who believes he has a message from God, a damaged cop with a schizophrenic son who tried to stab and burn his mother to death, and a detective who may or may not be responsible for the untimely death of his partner (whose wife he's been having an affair with). It all comes off as hectic, confusing -- not to mention rather grim, which you'd probably expect from a drama based on David Bowie's dark album "Five Years," but it's just not a lot of fun to watch. 

Some viewers may additionally be disturbed by the violence, which frequently targets women. Before the show's first scene has elapsed, characters have been stabbed in the gut, gotten a fork stuck in their cheek, and hit each other with heavy pots and pans, and then gasoline is poured over a woman, including in her face and eyes, before a match is dropped. On a later episode, a woman is attacked by a hammer-wielding maniac in bed; later, the camera pans up her naked, bloodied body, a rivulet of blood dried on one wrist, in a way that's as exploitative as the seamiest TV police procedural. Hard Sun has a killer premise but doesn't stick the landing -- there are better British imports to spend your time on. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Hard Sun. How is the violence depicted on this British show different from that in U.S. shows? What would the show be like with less graphic violence? Would it still work?

  • Why are apocalyptic scenarios, in which the earth or the people on it are in danger of extinction, such a popular topic for sci-fi movies? What fears do they express? What dramatic possibilities do they enable? How does it give characters a chance to be heroic, or evil? 

  • Many TV shows are set within a law enforcement unit -- why? Why is a focus on crime more compelling or dramatic than a show set within another environment? Why are detectives so frequently at the center of the action in these types of shows? How is Hard Sun like other crime shows you have watched? In what ways is it different? 

TV details

For kids who love drama

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