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Tidelands

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Tidelands TV Poster Image
Supernatural soap opera is sexual, violent -- and boring.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It's a goofy fantasy show, but does convey some messages about prejudice and betrayal (if you squint real hard).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pretty much everyone here is flawed as heck -- even the so-called "good" characters are up to all kinds of shady stuff.

Violence

Eyeballs are torn from people's heads, there are bullet-riddled shoot-outs among crime lords, several incidences of choking and punching. A couple of attempted drownings occur. Characters use guns and knives, one man's throat is slit in front of a group. An old woman is locked up in a small iron cell and occasionally beaten by her captor. While the violence is frequent, the effects are poorly done and look too unrealistic to be truly upsetting.

Sex

A woman is seen topless within the first two minutes of the series, this becomes a running theme. The Tidelanders seem to enjoy indulging in frequent outdoor orgies within their compound. Several makeout sessions and full-on sex scenes -- bare breasts and buttocks pop up frequently. One disturbing scene where a Tidelander's magical vagina seems to be crushing her sex partner nearly to death as she laughs and says "I'm very strong!"

Language

"Damn," "hell, "bitch," "d--k," "s--t," "f--k." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Plenty of hard-drinking characters, smoking too. A major storyline involves a turf war over clashing drug dealers, there are scenes of drugs being manufactured although exactly what drug is being made is never revealed -- it's just shots of workers pouring various liquids and powders into glass beakers and such.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tidelands is an Australian supernatural-themed series. The content is part soap opera, part crime drama -- with all the accompanying sex scenes and gunplay you'd imagine. There's frequent nudity (orgies are commonplace) and violence (a man's eyeballs are pushed into his sockets, another has his throat slit). The special effects are nothing to write home about, which actually helps cushion the impact of the copious violence. There's an abundance of drinking, and a major storyline centered on a ring of drug dealers and their battles to dominate the trade.

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What's the story?

TIDELANDS takes place in a small coastal fishing village called Orphelin Bay, where ex-con Calliope "Cal" McTeer (Charlotte Best) returns home after a ten-year stint for arson and manslaughter. Hoping to cash in on her inheritance -- her fisherman father died shortly before she was incarcerated at age 14 -- she meets up with her brother Augie (Aaron Jakubenko), who reveals the true nature of the family business: running drugs. He does so with the help of the mysterious "Tidelanders", a reclusive group of half-human, half-sirens who live in a heavily-guarded shantytown of sorts, led by the magnetic Adrielle Cuthbert (Elsa Pataky). Unfazed by her brother's criminal connections, Cal wants in on the action but soon finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about her family, her town, and herself.

Is it any good?

"Small town inhabited by supernatural beings" is a formula that works best when the show doesn't take itself too seriously (see: True Blood). This soap has the nudity and violence, but zero humor. Tidelands suffers from a terminal case of self-seriousness, which would be totally forgivable if the special effects weren't so lo-fi, or the storylines weren't such convoluted nonsense. While the series is full of gorgeous scenery and hot actors, that's about all it has going for it. There are seeds of a better show here -- the mythology of these creatures could be fun to explore in more detail, especially concerning the gender dynamics between the more-powerful female Tidelanders and their weaker male counterparts. Should a second season come about, the creators would be wise to tighten up the writing, add a heftier dash of camp, and turn this into the guilty-pleasure binge watch that seems to be its destiny.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what role the concept of family plays in Tidelands. Why might Cal be struggling to figure out where she belongs, and where her loyalties lie? Did her father do the right thing by keeping her background a secret for so long?

  • How does Tidelands compare to other shows and movies and their treatment of the "siren" or "mermaid" myth? What do you think makes these myths so enduring and fascinating to audiences?

TV details

For kids who love vampires

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