Parents' Guide to

Black Narcissus

By Marty Brown, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Unnecessary TV adaptation has sexual tension, heavy themes.

TV FX Drama 2020
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With many literary adaptions, it's always interesting to ask why. Why now? What does a 1939 novel about English nuns in the Himalayas have to say about life in the 21st century? Black Narcissus is about such a specific time and place, namely the end of the British occupation of India, that it's easy to ask why it might call for a modern remake. There's definitely an argument to be made that Black Narcissus's main theme -- the dangerous implications of one culture imposing its values onto another -- is extremely relevant to modern American discourse. But it's hard to argue that this version was made with that intention in mind. There's already a definitive version of Black Narcissus that is readily available to watch: the 1947 film starring Deborah Kerr, which premiered only a few months before India achieved independence. That adaption still looks and feels vital. The 2020 TV miniseries adds little to the 1947 version (aside from an extra hour of runtime), looks like it was inspired by the original's groundbreaking use of Technicolor, and has nothing new to say. Just like the mission in the novel, Black Narcissus 2020 is a futile endeavor.

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