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 Wicked City centers on a string of sexually charged serial killings in 1980s Los Angeles targeting young women in their late teens and 20s. Though violence is a given, the murders themselves are more suggestive than graphic, with shots of the killer stabbing downward, immediately followed by blood splattering on a dashboard and the like. In a similar vein, sex (including oral sex and necrophilia) is simulated with some bare skin and passionate kissing, but no sensitive parts are actually shown. Characters use words such as "hell" and "ass," drink socially, and use illegal drugs such as cocaine.
What's the story?
There's a charismatic slasher (Ed Westwick) stalking the Sunset Strip in 1980s Los Angeles, and he's preying on pretty, young victims by luring them to his car, stabbing them to death, and then having his way with them. Meanwhile, the homicide detective (Jeremy Sisto) assigned to the case is adapting to life with an ambitious new partner (Gabriel Luna) and wrestling quietly with his own personal demons. Other residents of this dangerously WICKED CITY include a reporter on the rise (Taissa Farmiga) and a lonely single mother (Erika Christensen) who's getting awfully close to the killer.
Is it any good?
From "Tainted Love" to "White Wedding," Wicked City's nostalgic soundtrack is pretty killer. But that’s hardly enough to turn this tepid thriller into the guilty pleasure it’s trying so hard to be. Turns out, you need more than blood and Billy Idol references to make a prime-time slasher drama cool; you also need a better script -- and compelling characters that feel human instead of hokey.
Though Wicked City's gore is hardly at Dexter levels, it gets in its share of violent visuals with severed heads and some seriously creepy S&M. Of course, it's all been toned down for network TV, resulting in a half-baked horror/procedural hybrid that doesn't quite work. But we have to wonder how much better Wicked City would be if it aired someplace where it could actually be shocking. That might be all it needs to make it wickedly good.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Wicked City's take on 1980s culture. How accurate is the series' portrayal of the times, and is accuracy important? What's the appeal of "period" dramas that serve up nostalgia for a particular time and place?
How does Wicked City compare to other detective dramas in terms of violence and sexual content? What might the series look like if it aired on a non-network medium such as Netflix, Showtime, or HBO?
Who is Wicked City's target audience, and how can you tell? Is it OK for older teens to watch, or is the content too edgy for kids?
For kids who love mysteries
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.