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 intelligent, creative Canadian ensemble comedy series is definitely intended for adults. Characters swear, drink, and use drugs, and there's brief partial male nudity (buttocks) and some strong -- albeit funny -- simulated sex scenes. The sophisticated writing and focus on classic Shakespearean theater probably isn't for a lot of teens, but those who've been in plays or taken drama classes may enjoy the mix of behind-the-scenes humor and contemporary comedy.
What's the story?
SLINGS and ARROWS, a witty, sophisticated Canadian ensemble comedy, stars Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) as a gifted but somewhat emotionally imbalanced stage actor who proudly holds on to his belief in the artistry of the theater and refuses to sell out to corporate sponsors. When former friend/washed-out actor Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette) -- creative director for the declining New Burbage Festival of Shakespearean Theatre -- is killed, Geoffrey agrees to take over his position in hopes of reviving it. Once he's there, Geoffrey finds himself confronting former girlfriend/aging festival diva Ellen Fanshaw (Martha Burns), dueling with eccentric director/former college nemesis Darren Nichols (Don McKellar), and fighting the corporate pressures presented by festival general manager Curtis Smith-Jones (Mark McKinney). Geoffrey's life is further complicated when Oliver begins to visit him from the grave, serving as his artistic conscience. The lives of the festival's actors, which include young ingénue Kate McNab (Rachel McAdams), action-movie-hunk-turned-stage-actor Jack Crew (Luke Kirby), and no-talent hacks like Claire Donner (Sabrina Grdevich), are interwoven with the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolds as the group attempts to bring Shakespeare to life in a way that's both inspiring and financially successful.
Is it any good?
This brilliantly written series is modeled after a Shakespearean play, mixing irony and drama while weaving multiple storylines together -- each of the show's seasons is divided into six episodes or "acts," and its title is taken from Act I, Scene 3 of Hamlet. This makes Slings and Arrows an intelligent combination of irony and art that celebrates a love for the theater while simultaneously poking fun at those who are a part of that culture. In between the humor are moments that demonstrate the true beauty of Shakespeare and the talent that goes into performing his works. But its strong language and sexual content make it decidedly adult-oriented.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the tension that exists between theater as an art and as a business. Do you have to compromise your artistic vision in order to have the money to perform? What do you think the life of a regular working actor is like? What's the appeal of theatrical life? Families can also talk about the works of William Shakespeare. Even though his works are centuries old, why do people still read and perform them today? How have Shakespeare's works been made interesting and relevant to contemporary audiences? Can you think of any modern movies based on Shakespeare's plays?