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 edgy cable crime drama has it all: drug use, murder, adult language. The series' primary characters are criminals, and, in many cases, they carry out criminal acts as if they were normal business activities. The characters are mostly likeable and therefore the show creates sympathy for the criminals and glamorizes crime (to a certain extent).
What's the story?
In FX's dark drama series, a team of criminals works to pull off a $40 million heist while fighting off the Chinese mafia and a dirty cop. Nick Atwater, played by the captivating Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Street), leads the THIEF team. In the pilot episode, Nick loses his wife and becomes the sole caretaker of his teenage stepdaughter, which serves to both erode his resolve to go straight and complicate his criminal activities.
Is it any good?
In the tradition of Tony Soprano, Nick straddles the line between good-hearted father figure and murdering, thieving criminal, and Braugher's acting is up to the challenge. He slips from authoritative criminal boss to sensitive father to intimidating tough guy to grieving spouse with ease. Nick's brooding stepdaughter, Tammi (Mae Whitman), holds her own against Nick's intensity. She's struggling to face the fact that her real father is a deadbeat while also getting wrapped up in her boyfriend's criminal enterprises. She faces real teen dilemmas like being pressured for physical intimacy and tempted by drugs, albeit under circumstances only a TV show could force together.
Set in New Orleans, Thief integrates references and scenes from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But a savvy viewer can tell that the majority of the action, at least in early episodes, was shot either before the hurricane or outside of New Orleans proper. Way too much seems to be operating as usual -- most obviously, the police force. Like The Sopranos, Thief is not intended for kids. Guns and blood aside, the premise that criminals who kill and steal then come home to teach their children good morals is confusing. But it's interesting, too. And for those parents who allow their kids to watch Thief, this paradox should prove ripe for conversation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the complex nature of the characters and their behavior/actions. Is it possible to be a good person but commit bad acts? How does the series make you sympathize with these admitted criminals? Is that a good thing? Are some criminals better or worse people than others? Are some crimes worse than others?