Spartacus: Blood and Sand
By Will Wade,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Gladiator drama is heavy on combat, graphic violence, sex.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Violence and treachery are the only skills that seem to have value in this period action series. Gladiators who succeed in the arena are rewarded -- the bloodier their victories, the greater the acclaim. The wealthy Romans are consumed with petty politics and care much more about personal gain and status than in the lives of slaves, whom they view as sub-human and disposable.
Positive Role Models
Although Spartacus is a noble warrior who believes his word is his bond, values his friendships, and wants only to rescue his wife from slavery and raise a family, his attributes are often overshadowed by the antics of his foes, the Romans. They're venal, corrupt, and petty and thrive on treachery and deceit. They see no reason to keep their word and enjoy the spectacle of forcing slaves to fight to the death.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of graphic hand-to-hand combat, using swords, battle-axes, spears, fists, and other weapons. People are decapitated and impaled, limbs are hacked off, and blood sprays everywhere. Fight scenes shift to slow-motion at critical times just to make sure the most gruesome moments are fully visible.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many explicit sex scenes, some featuring full-frontal male and female nudity, entwined couples, naked male bottoms thrusting, and obvious suggestions of oral sex. Sex is sometimes a public spectacle at drunken parties/orgies.
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Lots of uncensored swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "c--t," "t-ts," "piss," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The warriors enjoy their wine and sometimes drink to excess. Wine also flows freely during drunken parties, leading to plenty of naked cavorting.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this extremely violent swords-and-sandals series isn't appropriate for kids. There's frequent nudity (including full-frontal male and female), explicit sex scenes, uncensored swearing, and lots of graphic violence. Heads roll, blood sprays, and the fight scenes shift to slow-mo at critical moments to give viewers an even "better" look at the gruesome action. The soap opera dramatics and political intrigues make for interesting storylines, but this is a grown-up guilty pleasure at best.
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Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Based on 17 parent reviews
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Engaging plot and characters but a lot of sex
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What's the Story?
After deserting from the Roman army in a fruitless effort to defend his village, a warrior is sold into slavery and quickly becomes a gladiator champion. Renamed Spartacus (Andy Whitfield), he gains fame for his prowess with a sword while learning to navigate the treacherous waters of Roman society, where sex and wine flow freely, but deception and politics are always just beneath the surface. His manipulative new owner, Batiatus (John Hannah), and the master's even more conniving wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), see Spartacus as a ticket to riches and status, while the gladiator has only one goal: to stay alive long enough to be reunited with his beloved wife, Sura (Erin Cummings).
Is It Any Good?
SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND is a 21st-century take on the classic gladiator tale, and the show's graphic sex and even more graphic combat scenes are probably closer to reality than the relatively tame films that popularized the genre decades ago. But historical accuracy isn't the goal -- this series is all soap opera with togas and swords. While Spartacus and his comrades battle for survival and glory, the Roman nobles fight just as viciously for the same prize, using words and deceit as their weapons.
The series owes a huge debt to 300, the hyper-violent retelling of the ancient battle of Thermopylae. That film set a new standard for its stylized battle sequences and slow-motion close-ups of swords meeting flesh and spurting blood; the frequent combat sequences here follow the same pattern. And then there's the sex -- lots of sex, as explicit as anything on premium cable stations' late-night schedules. This series definitely isn't for the young or the squeamish. But that doesn't mean older viewers might not find the over-the-top drama and abundant skin a guilty pleasure.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about fight scenes. How does this compare to the gladiator classics from decades past, and the more recent depictions of the period? Do you think the graphic violence goes too far?
Do you think movie and TV violence has ramped up recently? If so, why? And what does this say about the shifting standards of taste in this culture?
- Premiere date: January 22, 2010
- Cast: Andy Whitfield, John Hannah, Lucy Lawless, Sandy Winton
- Network: Starz
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: May 21, 2023
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