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 Trust is a true-crime-based drama series about the 1973 Getty kidnapping. From director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, 127 Hours) and writer Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, Battle of the Sexes), the show centers on the bizarre real-life kidnapping case of J. Paul Getty III, grandson of oil magnate J. Paul Getty, otherwise known as "the richest private citizen in the world." Alcohol and drug abuse by adults and teens is depicted, including hard drugs like cocaine. Scenes of simulated intercourse and masturbation occur, and a character reads aloud from a book of erotica. Getty lives with four "girlfriends" who are on call to attend to his frequent and obsessive sexual needs. Violence is depicted in many forms, from an ear being sliced off (this is no spoiler -- it's a matter of public record) to a swan being graphically run over. A character stabs himself in the torso with a barbecue fork; the camera does not pull away. There's verbal abuse galore, and frequent swearing.
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What's the story?
TRUST is inspired by the real-life 1973 abduction of elderly oil tycoon J. Paul Getty's teenage grandson (Harris Dickinson). Paul, as the younger Getty is known by family, is presented here as a freewheeling hippie type who almost certainly played a role in his own "kidnapping" and mutilation in order to satisfy his considerable gambling and drug debts. Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games) stars as penny-pinching billionaire Getty, who stubbornly refuses to pay "one red cent" for his grandson's release, arguing that it sets a bad precedent. Hillary Swank (The Homesman) portrays his tough, frenetic former daughter-in-law Gail, who just wants to see her son released. Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) is the Westernwear-clad, fourth wall-breaking James Fletcher Chace, an ex-CIA fixer on Getty's payroll who is tasked with looking into the abduction.
Is it any good?
The story itself may be well-trod ground by now, but the acerbic dialogue and strong cast help to circumvent any feelings of déjà vu. Donald Sutherland has an absolute blast playing the miserly and miserable J. Paul Getty, a soul-sick industrialist billionaire so bitterly and vocally consumed with how disappointed he is by his progeny, he can't see how his own parenting skills and life philosophies may have contributed to it. Unlike All the Money in the World, the feature film about the Getty kidnapping told mainly from the vantage point of Paul's desperate mother, Gail, Trust uses the episodic format to examine the story from various points of view, and in more detail.
This is perhaps most notable in the second episode, where Fraser's character addresses the audience directly, and to great effect. The show examines the theory (never proven) that Paul may have orchestrated his own abduction in order to wheedle money out of his grandfather -- but it's hard to feel too bad for the elder Getty, a man so rich he pays other people to pull up his underwear for him in the morning, yet so stingy he installs a payphone in his home so visitors (including family) won't run up his bill. This is true crime with a dash of camp, and entirely worth watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way this series differs from the feature film All the Money in the World, which was inspired by the same real-life story (and which was released not long before Trust). Does a tale like this benefit from a longer runtime, or was the shorter movie version more effective?
Does Trust present a wealthy lifestyle as something one should aspire to achieve? How does money -- having it, or not having it -- affect the way the Getty family members treat one another?