One Dollar

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
One Dollar TV Poster Image
Language, soapy scandals in briskly plotted mystery series.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Themes are generally on the dismal and downbeat side: capitalism keeps working people down, authority figures can't be trusted. Show's sympathies are clearly with the downtrodden. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complicated and most have secrets, some on the seamy side (addiction, infidelity, violence). Women and people of color have strong and central roles. 

Violence

A strange murder is at the center of this mystery; we frequently see blood in pools and trickles but not bodies. In an upsetting scene, a couple has a confused chase/tickle session with shrieks and giggles and screams of "Stop!" It looks enough like a sexual assault for a man to attempt to come to her rescue and punch her "attacker" in the face, knocking him unconscious. 

Sex

Couples flirt, kiss, strip to their underwear. A woman refers to "getting laid." A scene that begins as a consensual kissing session ends in a chase that appears to verge on a sexual assault and provokes a violent response from an onlooker. 

Language

Language and cursing includes "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "whore," "screwing," "asses," "d--k," "balls," "p---y" (meaning a weakling), "a--hole," "motherf----r."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes take place in bars. College students talk about drinking vodka and joke about dying of alcohol poisoning.  A woman waves an envelope and refers to having a "little something" (clearly drugs).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that One Dollar is a dark mystery series about a group of characters connected to a strange murder. Violence is less intense than viewers might expect with that setup: no guns, no bodies, though we do see blood in pools and rooms in disarray. Sexual content is also light, with flirting and kissing. There is a disturbing scene in which a "playful" fight between a man and a woman is punctuated by screams of "Stop!" and giggles -- it looks enough like an assault that a passerby tries to protect the woman. Language is frequent: "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "whore," "screwing," "asses," "d--k," "balls," "p---y," "a--hole," "motherf----r." Characters refer to "getting laid." Women and people of color have strong, central roles. 

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What's the story?

In a downtrodden Pennsylvania steel town, ONE DOLLAR changes hands and connects a wide-ranging group of characters, each connected in hidden ways to a multiple murder discovered at the town's steel mill. Each has secrets; each could be a suspect in the murders: Garrett Drimmer (Philip Ettinger), a mill worker struggling to raise his daughter and keep his head above water; Dannie Furlbee (Kirrilee Berget), a soon-to-be college student from the rich part of town who saw something she wished she hadn't; Jake Noveer (Nathaniel Martello-White), a private investigator who has his own skeletons in the closet; and Peter Trask (Christopher Denham), a police chief with curious loyalties. As the mystery unravels, all of them will be affected by the investigations in ways they -- and you -- couldn't begin to guess. 

Is it any good?

Glossy, seamy, and as briskly plotted as an Agatha Christie mystery, this potboiler has potent charms, even if some of the dialogue and characters are a little cheesy. One Dollar stumbles hardest when it attempts to make points about class in the small Rust Belt PA town in which it's set: The rich country clubbers on one side of the (literal) tracks are almost hilariously highfalutin, while the "West side" steel mill workers on the other are outrageously downtrodden, and both are quite silly.

With its fair share of cheesy groaners, this show should be a slog, but it's not. Instead, watching the exposure of Big Shameful Secrets harbored by seemingly everyone in town is quite a lot of fun. There are hidden safes full of ill-gotten money and pools of blood and mysterious late-night phone calls. There are calculating real estate developers, and easily hoodwinked cops, and forbidden romances. It's basically exactly the same "sin & scandal" on the menu in every small-town mystery series from Twin Peaks to Peyton Place to Ozark, but done this well, it's a kick. One final plus is a soundtrack full of underappreciated sonic gems: David Bowie's "It's No Game," The Vanguards' "Somebody Please," Yaz's "Don't Go." 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why criminal settings, particularly ones connected with murder, are so common in modern television dramas. What dramatic possibilities does One Dollar offer? Find out when your teens are ready for complex content like this show.

  • Movies and TV shows often communicate with a characteristic color palette: cheerful musicals will have eye-popping bright colors, horror productions will have lots of red and black. What's the color palette of this drama? Why?

  • How does the violence in this show affect you? Does it seem more or less violent than other mysteries or legal dramas you've seen?

TV details

For kids who love mysteries

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