What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Turn is a historical drama set in 1776 during the early years of the Revolutionary War. Violence tends toward the graphic and realistic, with shootings, stabbings, beatings, and spurting blood. In keeping with the period, however, language is generally tame (think "hell" and "damn"), and sexual content is limited to some light innuendo. Characters drink socially, too, but only on occasion.
What's the story?
When the rebel Americans serving under Gen. George Washington need a "man on the inside" to help them spy on British forces during the Revolutionary War, unassuming cabbage farmer Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell) becomes an unlikely hero as part of America's first spy ring. But deciding to TURN against his colonial government -- and his loyalist father (Kevin McNally) -- puts everything Abe's worked for at risk.
Is it any good?
Based on Alexander Rose's nonfiction book Washington's Spies, which charts the creation of America's first spy ring,Turn gets points for bringing history to the small screen and shedding light on a little-known benchmark in American espionage. But the thrill, as they say, is gone not long after it gets going, thanks to a story that's needlessly slow and characters who give us little reason to root for them. The show's opening credits (with animation that mimics the look of hand-cut silhouette art and music by The National's Matt Berninger and The Civil Wars' Joy Williams) are a compelling highlight, but most of what follows fails to measure up.
The good news for parents is that, aside from some graphic visuals, Turn makes for decent family viewing with older teens who could learn something about American history in a format that's far more appealing than a textbook. We just wish the show's female characters -- to say nothing of people of color, who are shown only briefly doing menial tasks for white people -- contributed more to the story than a few supportive lines.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Turn's take on the Revolutionary War and whether that portrayal seems accurate or exaggerated. What elements contribute to a sense of realism? (Think about violence, language, and costuming, to name a few.) How does the show compare with what you know to be true about the American colonies during that time?
How does Turn's title foreshadow the central conflicts of the series? How many levels of meaning does the word "turn" have in relation to the show's plot and characters?
How much screen time does the series give to women and minorities? Does their limited presence mirror the realities of the time period, and does that make the show's lack of diversity OK?