Like most of HBO's serial dramas (The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood), Rome is riveting, gorgeous, well written and acted, and for adults only. Set against the vivid backdrop of the city of Rome -- with its teeming masses, sewage-strewn streets, and ragamuffin children -- the politics of a great nation unfold. Decisions affecting thousands hinge on the caprices of a few rich men and women, who play at politics largely for personal gain and rarely concern themselves with the common man. In this respect, Rome links history to modern day life: While today's leaders may not wear togas, it's easy to imagine them brokering deals, gossiping, and forming powerful allegiances just like the Roman senators.
Produced and written by Bruno Heller, the show is fast-paced and sometimes difficult to follow. Much happens off screen, and viewers must stay alert to catch the nuanced plot developments. Most characters speak with British accents, which are usually easy to understand, but some viewers may have difficulty catching every word. In addition to the show's graphic sexual content, violence is common and often extreme. Some parents might feel that the benefits of showing teens that history is a living, breathing, raw, exciting thing will outweigh concerns about exposure to sex, violence, and vulgar language. But most will want to save this gruesome history lesson for adulthood.