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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 Rain Dogs is a dark comic drama about an English single mother struggling to find a safe place to raise her daughter amongst desperate poverty and a friend group that's equally damaged and desperate. Violence is frequent and personal: One main character has been imprisoned for almost beating someone to death, and he uses his fists on other characters in graphic and brutal scenes of beatings. Sexual content is frank, with characters engaging in sex work, including scenes in which we see our main character dancing in at a peep show in a brief costume, and another with a man performing oral on another man in a bathroom toilet (we see only knees and feet beneath the door). Many characters have substance abuse issues; we see drinking, characters getting drunk, and cigarette smoking. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "assh--e," and more, with vulgar English slang like "wanking." The cast has some racial diversity and many characters who are poor; their circumstances are explored sympathetically.
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What's the Story?
Set in a down-and-out corner of London that tourists don't see, RAIN DOGS centers on desperate single mom Costello (Daisy May Cooper), who we meet being evicted from her shabby apartment with her young daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian). Out of money and out of options, save for the sporadic help from her best friends Gloria (Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo) and Selby (Jack Farthing), Costello struggles to find safety for her small family in a world that seems to have no place for her.
Is It Any Good?
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this UK-set drama about a dysfunctional family unit is a sympathetic portrait of what poverty can do to perfectly nice people. We first encounter Costello throwing her belongings into trash bags, exiting her apartment with her daughter just ahead of the police. The two run out on a taxi fare, then somehow make it to Iris' school. Selby, on the other hand, makes his first appearance on Costello's phone screen, which lights up with his call: "Selby DO NOT ANSWER." Costello's college friend is privileged, gay, thoroughly self-destructive, and though he's the closest thing Iris has to a patriarchal figure, Costello's relationship with Selby is deeply complicated and toxic. Yet down and out as she is, she has little choice than to rely on his help.
From a distance, it might be easy to judge Costello and decide that her current circumstances follow a long run of questionable life choices. But Rain Dogs illuminates the way that poverty and desperation narrow Costello's choices, which are seldom between good and bad options, but instead terrible and worse. She has no family to fall back on, just a few friends who are themselves limited by their circumstances. It sounds like a huge bummer, and Rain Dogs can be. But it also finds humor and joy in small moments, and Iris and Costello are characters viewers will root for as they keep trying to find a safe place for themselves in a cruel world.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about alcoholism and the real-life consequences of substance abuse. How does this affect families, particularly those with children? Does the show handle the topic responsibly and/or realistically?
Does living in poverty justify acting outside the law and doing anything possible to survive? Are the characters in this show presented sympathetically or does the show invite us to judge characters?
Families can also talk about the challenges that come with importing a show from another country to the United States (and vice versa). How is Rain Dogs different from American shows about dysfunctional families? How is it similar?
- Premiere date: March 6, 2023
- Cast: Daisy May Cooper, Fleur Tashjian, Jack Farthing
- Network: HBO
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: March 7, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Dysfunctional family dramedy has booze, drugs, and sex.
Mature British drama is both gritty and sweet.
Quirky, mature U.K. comedy; cursing, strong sexual content.
For kids who love mature shows
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