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 series revolves around a wealthy businessman who pursues global philanthropy for both generous and selfish reasons. He's often forced to deal with corrupt government officials and drug dealers when trying to help people, so the lines between "good" and "bad" sometimes get a bit fuzzy. Expect some strong sexual innuendo (including a reference to orgies), fairly frequent violence ranging from gunshots to physical assault (bloody wounds are sometimes visible), and some strong drug references (images of marijuana, etc.). Words like "hell," "damn," and "screw" are audible.
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What's the story?
THE PHILANTHROPIST centers on Teddy Rist (James Purefoy) a wheeling, dealing billionaire who enjoys money, power, and all the perks that come with both. But after rescuing a young boy from drowning in Nigeria, Rist finds himself searching for a higher purpose and embarks on a path of adventure and global philanthropy. His antics frustrate his business partner, Philip Maidstone (Jesse L. Martin), and leave colleagues like Maidstone’s wife, Olivia (Neve Campbell); special projects manager A.J. Butterfield (Lindy Booth); and driver Dax Vahagn (Michael K. Williams) perplexed. He also inspires suspicion among those he's trying to help. And throughout it all, the conflicted Rist tries to work out what quietly haunts him, including the death of his young son.
Is it any good?
The series, which is based on the real-life international philanthropy of Bobby Sager, combines drama and adventure while highlighting very real and dangerous challenges -- like dealing with corrupt governments and trying to navigate war-torn countries to get to those in need. But while the show has substance, it goes a little bit too far in making Rist seem like a dashing, Indiana Jones-style adventurer. And exploiting some of Rist’s own vices -- like drinking and womanizing -- sometimes overshadows the show's positive themes.
Despite these flaws, the series does have a sense of authenticity thanks to the producers' efforts to film it in a variety of international locations. It's also well written and well acted. It’s not intended for younger viewers thanks to its violence, drinking, and sexual innuendo, but it's a great choice for older viewers looking for good stories that have more heft than the average action tale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about philanthropy. Why are some wealthy people willing to use their time and money to help others? Does that make them better people than those who don't give their time and money? What makes someone a good citizen?
Families can also discuss Bobby Sager, who inspired the show. Who is he, and what kind ofphilanthropic work does he do? Do you think his life is as adventurousas Teddy Rist’s?