Magic City

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Magic City TV Poster Image
Riveting 1950s-set drama is too sexy, violent for teens.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A mixed bag. On one hand, Ike's story of hard-fought success is a tale of the American dream, and he has friendly relations with and high standards for his employees, many of whom are Cuban immigrants. On the other, he mixes with organized crime to keep things running when his family's prosperity is threatened. Most characters have ulterior motives that guide their business and personal dealings, and relationships are constantly threatened by misplaced trust. Ultimately, though, the strength of family is a unifying theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ike would do anything for his family, even if it means setting aside his moral standards to ensure their safety and continued comfort. He knows right from wrong, though, which makes it hard for him to cross the line. Other characters are less upstanding, including mob bosses who kill (or authorize kills) for profit and use their money and power to influence others, beautiful women who use their looks and sex appeal to learn dangerous secrets they can manipulate for gain, gambling bookies, and a host of other shady characters whose work isn't quite legal. Danny is a stand-out character for his positive qualities, as he's unaffected by his family's wealth and seeks out a meaningful relationship with a lifelong friend, who's the hardworking daughter of an immigrant.


It's not gratuitous, but violence is used as a means to an end for wealthy characters to get their way. Evans employs mobsters to help dispose of people who stand in his way of success, so there's some gun use and evidence of other victims being roughed up. A character's mysterious disappearance, presumably at the hands of mobsters, is a recurring plot theme. Dead bodies are shown floating under the surface of the ocean.


Full rear nudity of both men and women, and women's breasts are visible on a number of occasions. Simulated sex between strangers, oral sex (a woman's head in a man's lap, but nothing sensitive is shown), making out, and promiscuity for financial gain and coercion are common.


"F--k," "s--t," "damn," "Goddamn," "hell," "ass," "son of a bitch," and "Jesus Christ."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The series is set in the 1950s, and the culture is reflected in the fact that most of the characters smoke cigarettes and/or cigars. Drinking is also part of the deal, and adults are often shown with drinks in their hands.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this intense drama series is intended for adults. Simulated sex between strangers, full-body nudity (no genitals, but buttocks and breasts are visible), oral sex (a woman's head in a man's lap), the implication of prostitution, and multiple affairs make for intense physical exchanges between characters. Violence is also a concern, with characters beaten or killed and some scenes of dead bodies. That said, the show manages to cast the main character in a sympathetic light, despite his dealings with the mob and other unsavory actions, because of his admirable affection for his family and friends and his willingness to go the extra mile for them.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byImnotateenbutgood September 19, 2012

What's the story?

MAGIC CITY tells the story of Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), owner of Miami Beach's luxurious hotspot, the Miramar Playa Hotel. Climbing the ranks from a cabana boy to the creator of this stunning seaside plaza was no simple task, and Ike guards its security almost as fiercely as he guards that of his family: wife Vera (Olga Kurylenko), sons Stevie (Steven Strait) and Danny (Christian Cooke), and daughter Lauren (Taylor Blackwell). But security is a precious commodity in Miami in 1959, when Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution sends shockwaves through the stateside immigrant population and the power struggle between organized crime and the authorities threatens to paralyze business. Now Ike faces the harsh reality of maintaining a brave and noble façade for his family while he secretly lines his pockets with mob money from boss Ben Diamond (Danny Huston) and illicit goings-on in backrooms of the Miramar. It goes against his moral fiber, but for now, it's a means to the evasive happy ending.

Is it any good?

This sharply written drama series plays on viewers' sympathy for a well-meaning businessman whose missteps on his road to success result in his being at the mercy of a ruthless mobster. Despite the fact that the story is set half a century ago, it has enough relevance to current state of affairs for adults to toy with "what if?" scenarios. What if your easiest route to your family's financial security was through a shady business deal? What if you realized the true consequences of that deal too late? What if placing your trust in someone whose honor you misjudged threatened your family's safety?

Magic City's gritty drama will have viewers itching for more, thanks to a superb cast and the story's ability to humanize players in the typically unsympathetic society of organized crime and its subsidiaries. Then there's the mystery behind the motivations of the characters, which are peeled back layer by layer to keep viewers guessing as to their true intentions. All in all, it's a highly entertaining series, but thanks to pervasive sexuality, free-flowing language, realistic violence, and air of emotional manipulation, it's one that must be saved until the kids are in bed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Ike's motivations. Based on his actions, do you think his motivations are all good? How does his family play a role in his motivations? Are there any instances in life when the end truly justifies any means? What if your success comes at the price of someone else's happiness or safety? Could you enjoy it?

  • How does this series portray the people of the time and place in which it was set? How is the immigrant community cast? How are they affected by the events in Cuba? How did those events ultimately affect the plight of would-be immigrants to the U.S.? Families can use this topic to instigate their own research into the events of the time.

  • How do various characters use manipulation to get what they want? How do they leverage business deals using their power over the people and things other people value? Is there such a thing as a fair-minded business deal, or are all to be mistrusted?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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