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TV Series Review

Family dynamics can be … complex.

If you host a Thanksgiving dinner, for instance, you know there can be friction. Uncle Willard always wants to argue politics with Cousin Bart. Someone's grandmother or aunt or in-law is bound to complain about the sweet potatoes. The kids won't stop throwing olives at one another. And some families just pray that you-know-who doesn't show up impaired or with a new spouse in tow.

But however prickly family relationship might look in your life or mine, chances are they're not quite as perilous as what Marta Walraven's dealing with in ABC's Red Widow.

Marta has, in essence, two families. First and foremost she has her kids: oldest son Gabriel, irksome teen Natalie, sensitive youngest Boris. Her husband died not long ago, and she's doing her best to raise her brood on her own (with a little help from her layabout brother Irwin and her best friend and sister, Kat). It ain't easy. Trying to keep her children happy and focused and obedient to her rules is a full-time occupation it seems.

But Marta has another family to worry about: the powerful crime syndicate she was born into.

See, Marta's father isn't just some stern, mustachioed gray-haired man looking forward to retirement. No, he's a notorious Russian kingpin who never leaves home without a bodyguard. And Marta's husband didn't just die. He was killed when his crime-lord bosses suspected he was snitching to the FBI. (Which he was.) Now the same syndicate who killed her husband is demanding that Marta pay off his debts by going to work for them. Meanwhile, the FBI wants Marta to help them bust the whole cabal—naturally at great risk to herself and her family.

All this talk of family is a rare positive attribute in Red Widow. It's great that Marta would do pert near anything to protect her kids. And it's great that she's trying to raise them in a loving, responsible matter. (Or, at least as responsibly as circumstances allow.)

But good intentions don't make everything bad go away. (Marta's dearly departed husband is a strong testament to that.) Because while all the talk of family is great and all, this family engages in some problematic pastimes. We might see Marta's son in bed with his girlfriend or Marta's father kill a rival. Kat might waltz around in her underwear. Marta could be fishing a dead body out of the drink.

Red Widow does indeed invite us to sit down with a family. But family television it is not.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Red-Widow: 3-24-2013



Readability Age Range



Radha Mitchell as Marta Walraven; Sterling Beaumon as Gabriel Walraven; Luke Goss as Luther; Goran Visnjic as Christian Schiller; Jaime Ray Newman as Kat Petrova; Jakob Salvati as Boris Walraven; Camille Sullivan as Newton; Suleka Mathew as Dina Tomlin; Clifton Collins Jr. as James Ramos; Pedro Pascal as Jay Castillo; Erin Moriarty as Natalie Walraven; Lee Tergesen as Mike Tomlin; Wil Traval as Irwin Petrova






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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