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 this hospital-set drama includes shots of trauma victims (usually bloodied and bruised) and scenes of transplants in action, though in the latter case the blood is usually kept to a minimum. The main character is a workaholic doctor/dad whose attachment to his job -- and frequent infidelity -- cost him his marriage. He's also a smoker, despite the fact that he sees its harmful effects in his patients. Mature topics like affairs and teen sex are common, and strong language ("damn" and "bitch," for instance) is sporadic.
What's the story?
In HEARTLAND, doctors and nurses race against the clock to turn death into new life for organ recipients. Treat Williams stars as Dr. Nathaniel Grant, a celebrated surgeon whose penchant for taking unprecedented risks in the operating room more often than not saves lives. But his single-minded devotion to his job has cost him dearly in his personal life, contributing (along with his infidelity) to the break-up of his marriage to co-worker Kate Armstrong (Kari Matchett). The divorce means he spends even less time with his teenage daughter, Thea (Gage Golightly), who admires but can't quite relate to her workaholic dad. Plus, Grant's aging mentor (Dabney Coleman) questions some of his protégé's risky procedures, a new arrival (Chris William Martin) always seems to be running just a step behind Grant, and even his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin) finds herself put off by him time and again.
Is it any good?
Blending gritty drama and raw emotion, Heartland explores the sentiments on both the giving and receiving ends of the organ donation process and follows the highs and lows of life for the pioneering doctor at the center of it all. Each episode follows the parallel stories of patients waiting for organ transplants and the deaths of their would-be donors. Viewers are taken for an emotional ride from one bedside to the other, watching as family members make painful decisions to end life support and donate organs -- and, in another room, as desperate family members cling to hope that their loved one will be saved by someone else's death. It's impossible not to be touched by the sentiments of sadness -- and eventual joy -- within the patients' lives, as well as the relatable drama in Grant's personal relationships.
Emotional and heartfelt to the core, Heartland is sure to entertain, but it's definitely on the mature side. There's some sex (though nothing too graphic is shown), multiple references to Grant's past infidelities, occasional strong language, and a highly flawed character (a surgeon who smokes?) at the show's center. Plus, if your teens are squeamish about blood and body parts, the trauma and surgical scenes will be too much, and the strong emotions and gritty storylines can be upsetting for viewers of any age.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why doctors show up so often as TV characters. What's the appeal of medical-themed shows? What other professions get a lot of attention from TV and movies? Why do you think that is? Families can also discuss the serious issues that the show brings up -- including infidelity, smoking, and particularly organ donation.