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Parents' Guide to

Billy the Kid

By Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Old West outlaw's tale is packed with slurs and sexism.

TV Epix Drama 2022
Poster image for the TV show BILLY THE KID, designed to look like an Old West-style "WANTED" poster. The main character is pictured from shoulders up, wearing a black hat and looking up from under the brim of his hat.

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The real-life inspiration for this series was by all accounts a thief and murderer, recast here in his eight-episode origin story as a tragic victim of circumstance with an eye for justice and honor. Billy the Kid isn't the first show to mythologize a mysterious historical figure like this, and definitely breaks no new ground when it comes to its depictions of minorities and women. Obviously, opportunities were limited and life was not kind to either group during this time period, but the way the series uses them as props to shade in Billy's humanity -- while not actually allowing them to develop as two-dimensional characters -- is lazy and reductive.

Whatever action the show presents doesn't help alleviate things, either, as the show's pacing is a dull slog going through the same tiresome motions of every other cowboy tale you've seen. In a post-Deadwood world, you've really got to bring something new and nuanced to the table when it comes to Westerns on TV and unfortunately, Billy isn't nearly up to the task.

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