A Christmas Carol (2019)

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
A Christmas Carol (2019) TV Poster Image
Grim, violent adaptation of Dickens classic brings no cheer.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It highlights some of the social injustices that existed during Victorian England, but most of the focus is on Scrooge’s journey, and overall misery. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Scrooge is a damaged person whose actions reflect his pain. The Cratchits are good people, but they aren’t perfect. 


Arguing is common. Gruesome figures, as well as some violent moments, including killing a mouse, is visible. 


Some references to sexual exploitation. 


Cursing ("f--k") is audible. 


The series is based on Charles Dickens’ classic novella. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ale and cider are consumed, and tobacco pipes are smoked. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this dark version of A Christmas Carol features lots of mature themes, ranging from labor and sexual exploitation, to living with regrets about things done to others in the past. Death and speaking to spirits is central to the classic tale, but additional themes includeexploitation and child abuse. Violent moments are dark and scary, ranging from screams heard from a burning building to the decapitation of a rodent. There’s some cursing, including "f--k," and drinking (ale and wine). There's nothing festive about this adaptation, and isn't suited for young viewers. 

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What's the story?

From the creator of Taboo and Peaky Blinders comes A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2019), a dark adaptation of Charles Dickens' iconic 1843 novella. It stars Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge, the stingy, cold-hearted money lender who despises Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve, and Bob Cratchit (Joe Alwyn) is hoping to leave work early to be with his wife Mary (Vinette Robinson) and his children, including Tiny Tim (Lenny Rush). After spending the day unwilling to allow himself, or anyone around him, to enjoy the holiday, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley (Stephen Graham), who warns him that three spirits will visit him that night. Scrooge remains unfazed until he is forced to face his horrible past, his miserable present, and what could become his terrible future. 

Is it any good?

This gritty remake of the iconic tale delivers a cold, depressing story that offers little to celebrate about. The three-part series is visually dark, which helps create the grim story world it features, and the dark themes just keep on coming. References to sexual exploitation, gruesome imagery, and child abuse only add to its already depressing nature. 

Unlike the original novella, nothing good really happens, and the characters express little hope for a happier future. But the performances are solid, and some may find this somber adaption of A Christmas Carol to be a creative departure from previous holiday versions. Nonetheless, if you’re looking something uplifting to get you into the holiday spirit, you will not find it here. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lessons Ebenezer Scrooge learned on Christmas Eve. Why is he the way he is? Does he change? 

  • Why has A Christmas Carol been adapted so many times? What is it about the story that makes it appealing today, even thought it was written so long ago?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holiday stories

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