Spartacus: Gods of the Arena



Period drama is definition of gratuitous sex and violence.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show glorifies extreme violence and degrading sexual behavior.

Positive role models

Characters advance solely through extreme acts of violence and treachery, and are motivated primarily by greed and lust.


Not only is the show extremely gory but the camera frequently lingers on creative acts of violence, such as a human head being sliced in half, rendered with computer-generated graphics in physiologically accurate detail.


Although there is a great deal of nudity and softcore sex sequences, male/female interactions are rarely depicted as anything but pure physical satisfaction, and sometimes as violent.


The characters speak in mock-noble British accents and employ very modern curse language throughout the dialogue, including "f--k" and "c--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Over-indulgence in alcohol and occasional drunken cavorting.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this sensational hour-long cable series is equivalent to an extremely violent and sexually charged R-rated film. The series' graphic, extreme acts of violence, including decapitations and torture, are not just depicted on screen, but are filmed in such a way that the camera lingers on the blood and gore for maximum impact. In addition, expect full female nudity and graphic, sometimes degrading sex. Language is strong, and includes "f--k" and "c--k."

What's the story?

A prequel to the series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, GODS OF THE ARENA focuses on Batiatus (John Hannah) and his previous champion of the arena, Gannicus (Dustin Clare). Batiatus is a hungry master of gladiators who is ready to overthrow his father and scheme his way into power and glory, with the help of wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless).

Is it any good?


Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is a show truly more focused on depicting sex and violence than on telling anything close to a coherent story. It's impossible to get past it. Scenes packed with dialogue written in a faux-ancient speech pattern are sped through while the camera lingers longingly on blood spurting from eye sockets, blood gushing out of the stump of a recently-decapitated body, or blood pouring from a slit throat. Some company in Hollywood is making a mint selling these people fake blood.

You can sense the precedents for this kind of storytelling -- it's basically sort of 300: The Series, also building off the success of HBO's Rome and putting its own amped-up, brutal spin on the era. When the actors have a moment to speak and let the lines breathe, there's some gifted talent in the cast. But you walk away from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena thinking not of the plot or the characters, but of buckets and buckets of blood.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the impact of gratuitous violence on television. Does the violence in the show seem motivated by the story and characters? Why or why not? What would be lost if the violence was toned down?

  • Do you think the series offers an accurate depiction of its particular era of history? How would you find out?

TV details

Cast:John Hannah, Lucy Lawless
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:Streaming

This review of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena was written by

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  • 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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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bymgraf January 29, 2011

The changes in ethics and morals through time and different cultures.

There are some talented actors among the cast, no doubt. There's also a plot, however tenuous the thread that holds it together may be. And the sets, costuming, and set decoration are aditionally visually quite satisfying. There's also violence, sex, buckets of gore, and a lot gratuitous nudity. Taken with a bit of amused tolerance, and turning the brain off for a while, 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena' makes for a very entertaining show for adults and mature older teens. However it is definitely not on for kids or tweens, and only for younger teens at a parent's discretion. I'd suggest parents could use this show as a springboard for the discussion of ethics and subjective morality. Discuss about what is 'right' and what is 'wrong' according to different cultures, throughout different periods of history, and how every individual has their own personal moral code.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byEntropy January 23, 2011

Much like Blood and Sand...

It's a very realistic representation of Rome's downfall, very violent, far too much sex, and lot's of nudity. That being said, this one is just as entertaining as Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The action sequences are incredible, the characters are engaging, and the storyline keeps it moving forward. And though there has only been one episode of it so far, it's going to be a promising second season.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byzazmopepperz April 20, 2011

Iffy for 15- 16

Spartacus Gods of the Arena is actually a very good show. I prefer it to Blood and Sand because it shows what the gladiator trade was really like instead of some typical story of a guy trying to unite with his wife, and also there is a little entertaining romance in the back which you'll find amusing. However the interesting and educating story can masked by the intense bloody violence and sex. My parent do not know I watch this show and my older brother lets me watch it, but doesn't like me watching it. I think it's appropriate for 15 and 16- year- olds as it shows what Roman life is like (yes it actually was like that back in those days). I'd wait till your seventeen before ever considering asking your parents if you can watch and if you want to watch it earlier then don't tell them.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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