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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 this crime-and-faith drama is packed full of adult material that's particularly edgy for basic cable. The very first episode opens with a vigorous sex scene, which -- while key body parts are always hidden -- leaves nothing to the imagination. The main character is sexually promiscuous, drinks heavily, and smokes constantly, but she has a good heart, and the series is about her quest to reform herself (with an angel's help) after she kills someone while driving drunk. She investigates some very violent crimes in her work as a detective, including a child abduction with the possibility of sexual abuse and murder.
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What's the story?
Holly Hunter stars as Grace Hanadarko, an Oklahoma City police detective who lives fast and loose, drinking too much and sleeping with the wrong men. After driving drunk and killing a man (or so she thinks), Grace asks for help. An unconventional angel named Earl (Leon Rippy from Deadwood) responds, telling Grace that she is headed for hell, but he will help lead her back to the right path.
Is it any good?
At first glance, SAVING GRACE is a typical (if particularly racy) cop drama about a hard-living, self-destructive female detective who lives for her work and is at the top of her game. But then a winged angel spitting tobacco into an empty soda bottle appears, and preconceptions about the cable series come to a screeching halt. Bringing God, angels, heaven, and hell into the world of a gritty police drama -- where Grace investigates crimes like child abductions and other violent matters -- is tricky business. What keeps the program from getting too cheesy is the stellar cast.
Hunter plays her role full-force; sometimes it seems like the acting is taking over the character, but then she pulls it back in and delivers powerful moment after moment. Her unconventional angel, Earl, is the perfect foil to penetrate Grace's bitter cynicism. The rest of the cast comes from good stock as well, keeping the show -- which sometimes tends toward formulaic plots -- exciting to watch. But with its vigorous sexual scenes, heavy drinking and smoking, and frank discussion of grizzly crimes, Saving Grace is absolutely adult material.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issues that Grace struggles with. What's behind her drinking, smoking, and sexual escapades? What are the consequences of her actions? Why does she decide to change her ways? What messages is the show sending about forgiveness and redemption? Are those messages more meaningful because Grace is such a flawed character? Do you think everyone deserves a second chance? Families can also discuss faith. How do you define faith or grace? If you have spiritual beliefs, how do you practice them?