Scoundrels

 
Mostly tepid crime family drama has some racy content.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The family has a history of pulling small-time crime jobs and scams, but they do draw the line at what they won't do (they never invade people's homes, and they never use violence). Some of the characters face consequences (like jail time) for their criminal actions. As the series unfolds, they're making an attempt to turn over a new leaf, but whether they succeed remains to be seen.

Positive role models

Everyone in the family -- including a high schooler -- has pulled something over on somebody at some point in their lives. Characters make their way through life by lying, scamming, and, when the situation necessitates it, stealing. The matriarch is the only one who truly seems to want an honest life.

Violence

Some punching, kicking, etc., and occasional weapon-wielding. Blood is rare.

Sex

Semi-steamy simulated sex between adults and older teens/20-somethings. No nudity, but characters sport bare chests (men) and lingerie (women) in bed.

Language

Occasional use of words like "hell," "damn," or "friggin'."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking. In one scene, an older man slips a drug into a glass of champagne to try to take advantage of a college-age girl.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this show is about a family with four kids in their teens and 20s who've spent most their lives mired in crime. As a result, characters lie, steal, blackmail others, and evade the police when necessary. But, on the plus side, there are usually consequences for their criminal behavior -- like the father's five-year jail sentence. Expect some moments of sudden violence (mostly punching and kicking, although some characters carry weapons) and some relatively mild swearing ("damn," "friggin'," etc.). Sexual content can get a bit steamy, with simulated intercourse, bare male torsos, and women wearing lingerie. There's also some social drinking, in addition to at least one dangerous situation involving a drug slipped into a drink.

What's the story?

Based on the hit New Zealand series Outrageous Fortune, SCOUNDRELS follows a family of career criminals who are trying to go straight ... but may not be able to break old habits. When longtime scammer Wolf West (David James Elliott) gets sent to the slammer for five years, his wife, Cheryl (Virginia Madsen), is faced with single parenthood -- and the realization that the family desperately needs to turn over a new leaf. Three of her children -- Cal (Patrick John Flueger), Heather (Leven Rambin), and Hope (Vanessa Marano) -- have learned the ways of the "family business," but Cheryl is determined to teach them better behavior. Good thing she's got another one to set a good example: her newly minted lawyer son -- and Cal's twin -- Logan.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Scoundrels isn't the first dramatic series to explore the inner workings of a criminal family, and fans of far-superior predecessors like The Sopranos, Weeds, and The Riches will quickly conclude that it isn't the best, either. Aside from the hokey Cain and Abel dynamic between bad son Cal and good son Logan (both are played by Flueger, wearing different wigs and various stages of facial hair), there's something in the series' tone -- an odd mix of drama and desperate comedy -- that makes it seem like it's trying too hard.

Neal McDonough (Minority Report, Desperate Housewives) was originally slated to play family patriarch Wolf West but was hastily replaced (reportedly because he had a moral objection to filming sex scenes with Madsen on camera). Although Scoundrels might have been a better series with him in place, his absence alone doesn't explain its shortcomings.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's message when it comes to crime. Does it glorify the Wests' bad behavior or seem to support their rehabilitation?

  • Do the Wests' two cardinal rules -- that they never invade people's homes and never resort to violence -- somehow make them less threatening than other criminals? Do the Wests believe themselves to be harmless?

  • Do you think Cheryl is a good role model when it comes to parenting? Why or why not? Do her children face consequences for their actions? Will Wolf's attitudes undermine her efforts to turn the family around?

TV details

Cast:David James Elliott, Patrick John Flueger, Virginia Madsen
Network:ABC
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Scoundrels was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byLayneE October 7, 2010
age 16+
 

Watch it first.

Adult show for sure. I like it. I think it's funny, but I also know that the first episode started with a couple in bed, then jail, then a son stealing. I enjoy the cast. They add great humor to the show, but I wouldn't want my kids to watch it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old June 21, 2010
age 12+
 

Great show! But probably would be rated PG-13 in movie form.

Although these people are not the best role models in actuallity... they come through at the end of the day's "work". Then they become nice role models. And you think that you should have such good views on life and learn to make yourself better for the sake of others.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages

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