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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 the residents of Hemlock Grove are a strange crew of misfits and monsters (both literally and figuratively) who are grappling with an unsolved series of murders. Teens might be interested because the setting is high school and many of the characters are teens, but the violent content is gratuitous and gross, and you'll see simulated (and sometimes bloody) sex acts with partial nudity, including breasts, nipples, and buttocks, making the series appropriate for adults only. You'll also hear unbleeped language that includes the F-bomb and everything in between. Teen characters smoke and drink alcohol, too, and use illegal drugs (including pot and cocaine) with no real consequences.
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What's the story?
Soon after newcomer Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) and his mother (Lili Taylor) move to the woodsy town of HEMLOCK GROVE, a high school girl is brutally murdered, and Peter finds himself fending off suspicions that he's the killer -- and a werewolf. But Peter's equally suspicious of Roman Godfrey (Bill Skargård), a wealthy classmate he believes to be a vampire, or "upir," with an insatiable thirst for blood, a sideshow of a sister (Nicole Boivin/Michael Andreae) and a mother (Famke Janssen) with mysterious powers. The plot thickens when a second girl turns up dead, and Peter and Roman team up to find the source of the town's bad karma.
Is it any good?
Even though they have nothing in common, it's hard not to compare the horror-thriller Hemlock Grove with the political drama House of Cards. Mostly because the critically lauded House of Cards -- which marks the second of Netflix's forays into original series territory (the first was the fish-out-water mobster drama Lilyhammer) -- was so good, both in terms of quality, story, and acting, that you'd expect Hemlock Grove to follow suit. But prepare to be disappointed, dear viewers, for Hemlock Grove is no House of Cards. (And you should also prepare to get totally grossed out in episode 2.)
Even diehards of the genre will find fault with the show's uneven mix of hokey and horrific elements; a storyline that's often confusing; and acting that isn't always up to standard. (Notable exceptions are Lili Taylor and Landon Liboiron, who succeed at forging a mother-son relationship that feels refreshingly believable, and Nicole Boivin and Michael Andreae, who join forces to create a character who's hands down the town's most intriguing resident.) If you stick around long enough, Hemlock Grove just might grow on you. But for most viewers, a brief visit will be all they can stomach.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the trend toward the supernatural in movies, television, books, and more. Why have vampires, werewolves, witches and the like become such popular protagonists? Does Hemlock Grove add anything new to the mix, or is it merely a rehash of things we've seen before?
How does Hemlock Grove compare to other shows with supernatural themes in terms of tone, style, and substance? Is it a horror series, a straight drama, or a comedy? How does it compare with the book that inspired it?
Can Hemlock Grove get away with sexual and violent content other shows can't since it airs exclusively on Netflix? What, if anything, would the producers have to change in order for it to air on cable or network TV?
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