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THE OUTLAWS Presents A Flawed View of Justice and Goodness

Poster courtesy of the MMPA

THE OUTLAWS Presents A Flawed View of Justice and Goodness

By Movieguide® Contributor

THE OUTLAWS is a comedy crime drama on Amazon Prime written by Elgin James, Stephan Merchant, and others, and stars Rhianne Barreto, Darren Boyd, Gamba Cole, Charles Babalola, Jessica Gunning, Clare Perkins, Eleanor Tomlinson, Grace Calder, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Walken, and others. The show is produced by Luke Alkin, Kenton Allen, Matthew Justice, Stephen Merchant, Tanya Qureshi, and others, and centers around seven strangers from different walks of life who are forced together to complete a community payback sentence in Bristol.

Each episode of season one is roughly 60 minutes. Each episode has some sort of dilemma that the seven characters deal with while also juggling the requirements of their community payback sentence. Every episode leaves unanswered questions and unraveling situations that tease at consequences in future episodes. The show is narrative-driven with each episode building upon the previous.

Most of the conflict comes from various high or low-stakes drama in each character’s life. For example, in one episode, one character must navigate trying to close a major business deal while hiding his community payback sentence; another character commits a crime to get gangsters to stop enticing his ignorant little sister to join their ranks; and the main character, Rani, must navigate pleasing her parents while being one criminal infraction away from them disowning her—all the while she keeps encountering situations in which she feels compelled to break the law to help someone. There is some interplay between the characters’ stories, and everyone’s behavior on the worksite affects everyone else. For example, one person being rowdy can result in extra community hours or longer workdays for everyone.

There are light Christian references mixed with a light pagan worldview where the characters lie, steal, and engage in various criminal activities in some situations where the show incorrectly presents their actions as the right thing to do. This is somewhat balanced out by the clear focus on the family that multiple characters exhibit.

Further, the main characters and others are willing to act to their own detriment in order to protect each other, a brother is willing to risk his life to keep his sister away from bad influences, a rich man who is losing everything fights desperately to protect his family from destitution, and a formerly imprisoned father pours his heart as best he can into mending his estranged relationship with his 40-year-old daughter who he hasn’t seen since she was young. However, even these positives are tinted by the fact that the characters will lie, sneak, trick, betray, act selfish, and commit crimes in an effort to accomplish these and other goals. Sometimes, these deeds even go unpunished and are presented as the right thing to do. There is a light politically correct worldview as a rich, white man is presented as racist and a radical leftist character continuously spouts leftist dogma and ad hominem attacks against the white men for not using the latest required pronouns to refer to people. However, a character identified by others as a conservative will occasionally make a few remarks pointing out how the left eats its own.

There are plenty of obscenities as characters use all curse words throughout the show. Characters also consistently use substitutes including dang, darn, and a few more words, in place of what would otherwise be expletives. There are multiple “OMG,” and “Jesus” profanities throughout the show; there is moderate violence as people fight, threaten each other with and fire guns, and otherwise engage in acts of violence at different points in the series; there is no nudity, though some characters dress provocatively at times; there is sexual content in certain episodes; there is smoking/drug use and abuse and alcohol consumption; major miscellaneous immorality as the characters resort to crime or deception to solve their problems–occasionally to great avail.

The camera work, scenery, and color grading are all up to par. Except for a few locations that seem a little to cheap for what they’re supposed to represent, most of the show feels as though they put in the requisite budget to do a good job. The show is not visually appealing as most of the characters are average-looking at best and the scenery, while an accurate depiction of a rough part of the UK, is not engaging to look at. Most of the draw for this show comes from the overall plot and individual character stories.

THE OUTLAWS is a grounded comedy, crime drama with light immorality and some questionable elements. This show is clearly intended for mature audiences and younger audiences should exercise extreme caution. While there is nothing groundbreaking about the story or acting, the situations the characters get into are well-executed and the characters generally have genuine, human motivation for making the choices that they do. The show does a good job getting you to care about a few core characters and then expanding multiple stories around them. You genuinely want what’s best for the characters and even feel compelled to root for them not to get caught when they do wrong. The problem is that the show generally holds the position that the ends justifies the means. Thus, characters are presented as righteous for doing evil things to accomplish a good purpose. This contradicts Biblical morality (Romans 3:4-8) and can leave even adults walking away with a twisted view of justice and goodness.

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