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 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
For kids who love drama
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.