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 excellent British police thriller features deeply flawed heroes and somewhat glamorous villains, providing somewhat mixed messages about right and wrong choices. The violent and sexual content compares to series like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and CSI, and includes some graphic blood and scenes of torture. For these reasons, the series is most appropriate for mature teens and adults.
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What's the story?
The titular character in LUTHER (Idris Elba) is a detective with the London police with a single-minded focus on capturing serial killers and sexual predators. He has a genius-level investigative mind but lacks self-control when it comes to his own relationships and emotional life. His singular focus has damaged most of his personal relationships, and his identity straddles a terrifying line between the light of justice and the darkness of the criminals he pursues.
Is it any good?
Mature fans of great TV will recognize Idris Elba instantly; he portrayed the calculating, simmering Stringer Bell on HBO's The Wire. Luther is a showcase for Elba's incredible acting ability, offering him a character that's the polar opposite of Stringer -- Luther is emotional where Stringer was methodical; Luther is a flawed hero while Stringer was a villain with redeeming characteristics.
Essentially, Luther enables Elba to unload as an actor in ways that portraying Stringer did not. His performance is explosive, nuanced, brilliant; it's the key to the show's success. Also key is the clever dialogue from series creator and writer Neil Cross. These are definitely cops, but they're the most articulate and funny cops on television, in a natural and organic way. Rather than making the characters unrealistic, it only adds nuance and dimension. Like any violent cop series, Luther is only appropriate for mature teens and adults; unlike most of its contemporaries, Luther transcends its genre and becomes a remarkable portrait of a singular television character.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's violence. How is the violence depicted on this show different from that in U.S. shows? What would the show be like with less graphic violence -- would it still work?
What kind of moral questions does this show bring up? How would you handle yourself in similar situations?