Slings and Arrows



Forsooth! Smart, mature comedy goes backstage.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show emphasizes the beauty and value of Shakespeare, as well as the tension that emerges between the theater as an art form and as a business. The characters are eccentric and flawed, but they're not bad people. Cast is primarily Caucasian, but some secondary actors are African and Asian. Several characters are homosexual.


Occasional slapping. While meant to be funny, on at least one occasion it results in a bloody lip. Some characters are seen dueling with swords, but this is more comedic than violent.


Kissing/making out and strong (but funny) simulated sex scenes. Brief male nudity (backside). Various metaphors used to connote certain sexual acts.


"Tits", "ass," "s--t," "f--k," and more. But the swearing isn't gratuitous.


Highlights various works of Shakespeare and makes references to various plays and musicals shown both in Canada and on Broadway, including "Mama Mia."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frequent consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. Consumption of marijuana is referenced and occasionally visible. Characters sometimes get very drunk or high.

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.

Parents say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Martha Burns, Paul Gross, Stephen Ouimette
Network:Sundance Channel
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

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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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Teen, 13 years old Written byRagingBull April 10, 2012

Great, smart show with some iffy material

This is a smart, funny, and even sad show. There is some sex, but it is all humorous and used as a joke. There's a tiny bit of blood sometimes, but it's all prop blood. There's also language, but nothing constant.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written bynduns April 9, 2008

Another well-written and underrated comedy

It's even more underrated than Arrested Development, and unlike AD, it actually has some decent role models. Now this show is by all means not for children. There is very heavy swearing and unlike most comedy like this, it's uncensored, so you've been warned. Overall, give it a shot. It's brilliantly written, has some great and funny characters and, well, it's unexpectedly great.


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