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Sexy British soap's take on spooky feels forced.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's a subtle message that friends should stick together and protect each other. But there's a much stronger message that the world is scary and frightening, and that you can't always trust those you love.

Positive role models

The main characters make an effort to take care of each other in spite of their uncertain surroundings and help other residents with ghostly encounters, but each has his or her own personal demons.


Some fantasy violence, including choking, drowning, etc. Sudden frights and supernatural effects.


Making out/kissing, with rare partial nudity.


Infrequent audibles like "damn," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this show's overall spooky theme lends itself to sudden scares and supernatural sights, including ghosts that try to harm human beings. There's also some sexually charged content that includes kissing and partial nudity; light swearing (think "damn"); and social drinking.

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What's the story?

A group of fashionable friends (Charlotte Salt, Will Young, Ashley Madekwe, and Theo James) living in the newly renovated BEDLAM Heights apartments -- conveniently located inside an abandoned institution for the mentally ill -- find they have unwanted roommates in the form of long-dead ghosts who've never left the building. Luckily, one of them has the ability to see the spirits and keep them from seriously harming the humans.

Is it any good?


Some critics have described Bedlam as a "Haunted Melrose Place." But in truth, that's giving Bedlam a lot more credit than it really deserves. For while Melrose Place (and its 21st century reboot) at least packs enough camp to make it a mildly addictive guilty pleasure, Bedlam is ultimately forgettable, thanks to its ultimately ineffective attempts to scare you into caring.

The special effects, in particular, play out as cheesy rather than spooky, a real let-down given the potential of the whole insane asylum setting. So instead of feeling like you got the frights you came for, you end the hour feeling frighteningly shortchanged.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the significance of the show's title and the real-life Bethlem Royal Hospital in London that inspired the word we commonly use today to indicate chaos. Is mental illness viewed differently today than it used to be?

  • Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a spooky experience? Why are ghosts and other supernatural beings such popular fodder for movies, TV shows, and other media?

  • Do you think the show is scary enough, or could it be scarier? Why do people purposely choose to watch things that will frighten them? What's the appeal?

TV details

Premiere date:October 8, 2011
Cast:Hugo Speer, Theo James, Will Young
Network:BBC America
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Bedlam was written by

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