A Discovery of Witches

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
A Discovery of Witches TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Some violence, romantic complications in book-to-TV show.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Intriguing notions of will are wound into this magical tale, like when a vampire asks another if he'd gotten consent from a human before trying to turn him into a vampire. A witch is also reluctant to use her powers, although she eventually decides to do so. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont are both academics, presenting a fine message about the value of scholarship and history. However, this show glances over Diana's academic work (which is more important in the novels), making her a less impressive figure than she could have been. Both vampires and witches struggle to keep from hurting others (though they frequently do). 


Violence is sporadic but can be bloody, often has a supernatural edge: After his friend is hit by a car, a vampire tries to bring him back to life by slashing his wrist and dripping blood into his mouth; a witch hurls a knife at a man's leg and then casts a magical spell that surrounds him with fire as he sinks mysteriously into the earth. Bicyclists don't wear helmets when they ride on busy city streets. 


Characters are single and attractive; expect romantic complications, kissing, flirting, dating, references to sex. Flirting can have a menaching edge that may make parents uncomfortable: "What are you going to do, rip my head off to get the truth out of me?" Diana asks Matthew at a tense moment; he answers, "I could. But that's not how I operate." Later he tells her to "walk, but don't run" away so he can resist attacking her. 


Language is mild but there's the occasional epithet: "Christ!" and "superstitious crap." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Vampires drink wine in this show, in contrast to traditional vampire myths. Scenes take place in pubs; no one acts drunk. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Discovery of Witches is based on the All Souls trilogy of books by Deborah Harkness about a supernatural book that's discovered by a witch, setting off a battle between all the supernatural beings living in the modern world. The tone of the show is serious and dramatic, but the content is fine for mature tweens and up. Violence is intermittent and often involves supernatural powers: A witch makes a magic ring of fire around a man before he's swallowed into a giant hole; a vampire drips blood into his friend's mouth in an attempt to bring him back to (vampiric) life after he's killed in a car accident. Violence and/or threats of violence can play a part in romantic moments too, like when a vampire vaguely threatens to hurt a witch in order to get information out of her, and advises her to "walk, but don't run" away if she wants to avoid being attacked by him after he's aroused by her scent on a jacket. Expect flirting, dating, kissing, and references to sex. Language is mild: "Christ!" and "crap." Some characters drink wine, including vampires; no one acts drunk. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byblueyes18 February 18, 2019

Very good!

Very great show! Super interesting and has some humor in it. It’s an edgy, mythological, sexy show. Centers around a single male and female who end up together.... Continue reading
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byHehesq97 January 23, 2019

Great but definitely not for kids

There are definitely items that are not appropriate for 13 year olds. They use the "f" word, there is explicit sex, there is a lot of violence and so... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byfeyre January 21, 2021

very overhyped

Honestly, I thought it was terrible. It was super slow and repetitive, with 2d characters. Don't bother.
Kid, 12 years old September 25, 2020

Couldn't Stop

I watched it in two days, loved it. There needs to be a season 2 LIKE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's the story?

Based on the All Souls trilogy by author Deborah Harkness, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES zeroes in on academic and reluctant witch Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), who is researching the history of alchemy in a library at Oxford when she's unexpectedly able to summon an ancient magical manuscript. Missing for hundreds of years, Ashmole-782 seems to be a book with great powers that's been sought by many in the occult world. Chief among them: Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), an Oxford professor who also just happens to be an immortal vampire. As the witches, demons, and vampires who have been living quietly around England and the rest of the world start to realize how powerful Diana really is, forces begin gathering for an almighty battle: one that may force Matthew and Diana into an unholy union. 

Is it any good?

Coming off as a sort of Twilight for adults -- or an Outlander that wouldn't make you blush if you watched it with your grandma -- this supernatural show has a cool premise and a slow burn. A world with otherworldly beings and doings hidden just beneath the surface of the everyday world is often a potent setting -- just ask Harry Potter, or Dorothy Gale -- and A Discovery of Witches juices things up still further by locating itself at Oxford, one of the world's oldest universities, where ancient buildings and a dusty old library add dignity to the proceedings. The chemistry between Palmer's Bishop and Goode's Clairmont is juicy, too, lining viewers up for any number of ship-worthy magical-battle-turning-into-foreplay sessions. 

The seen-it nature of this drama keeps it from ascending into the TV stratosphere: Magical beings trying to deny their powers have been a staple of TV shows all the way back to Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and this show's set of brooding vampires navel-gazing about their origins and place in the modern world seem ripped directly from any number of Anne Rice novels. Still, the leads are gorgeous, their forbidden love fun, and a looming cataclysmic paranormal brawl between mystical creatures lends some dramatic oomph. If magical tales are your thing -- particularly if you've read the series it's based on -- this show may be worth a peek. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about who A Discovery of Witches is aimed at. Teenagers? People in their 80s? People of another age? Men? Women? Children? How can you tell? How old are the main characters? Is that usually a good way to judge the intended audience? 

  • People often say that the book version of a story is better than the TV show or movie. Why do they say that? Have you read the books this show is based on? Which do you prefer: book or TV show? What was left out of the TV show, or what was added? Did this make the story better or worse? 

  • Where do you think A Discovery of Witches was shot? Was it shot, as the majority of shows are, in a studio in Los Angeles? How can you tell? What, if anything, does it add to the show to have realistic footage of London and other European cities?

TV details

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