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 Ripper Street is a graphic police procedural set in Victorian London, centering on a series of murders. There is a lot of explicit talk about crime and victims' injuries, plus many shots of dead, mutilated bodies. There is nudity as well, as we see topless prostitutes, shots of vintage pornography, even dead bodies of young women naked from the waist up. Many of the show's main characters are prostitutes, and we see them conducting business and cavorting in bed with men where intercourse and oral sex is strongly implied (though nothing is shown). Many of the characters curse and use rough language ("s--t," "tarts," "whores"). They drink and smoke as well. Older teens (and adults) may not be able to make out some of the vintage slang and thick accents.
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What's the story?
RIPPER STREET, a BBC mini-series set a few months after the famous -- and never solved -- Jack the Ripper murders, stars Matthew Macfadyen as Inspector Edmund Reid, the detective in charge of a new series of murders which police fear may be linked to the Ripper murders. Aiding Reid in his task is Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), a surgeon and former Pinkerton detective who has a dark secret in his past, and brothel madam Long Susan (MyAnna Buring). Meanwhile, crusading and somewhat unethical reporter Fred Best (David Dawson) is just waiting for Reid to trip up.
Is it any good?
How on earth did the BBC manage to make a slice of Ireland look so much like dirty, dusty old London? The setting and costumes are absolutely first-rate, adding an atmospheric quality that ratchets up the appeal of Ripper Street. Viewers will also enjoy peeks at Victorian history such as a conversation about putting in an underground, which Inspector Reid says would keep Londoners from having to "live like rats." Ah, Inspector Reid, if you only knew! If you only knew!
Adults and Anglophiles who like crime drama will probably love seamy Ripper Street. But teens will no doubt be mystified, first by the heavy British accents, second by old-school expressions like "do jug" (go to prison) and "she's been recently serviced" (she has had sex). Thus even though Ripper Street has much to teach them about history and the ways of Victorian London, they probably won't be able to make out exactly what's going on, not to mention be able to tolerate the mixture of sex and violence throughout the story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the Victorian setting adds to a traditional police show. How is Ripper Street different from other cop shows you've seen? How is it alike? What is the purpose, do you suppose, of using a historical setting for a show about crime?
The Jack the Ripper murders are some of the most famous in history. Why are these murders so notorious? What about them makes them interesting enough to merit dramatic treatment over a century after they occurred?