Black Sails

Common Sense Media says

Pirate drama revels in sex, blood, and salty talk.

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though the crew has egalitarian aims, the mood is hardly peaceful. Power, greed, and duplicity are common themes.

Positive role models

Although there are at least three strong female characters, it's largely a male-dominated series with noticable racial diversity. These are pirates, so they fight, steal, and drink.

Violence

Violent content includes sea battles, sword fights, savage beatings, and explosions, with bloody injuries and torture.

Sex

Nudity includes bare breasts, which are often gratuitous, and full frontal nudity. There's simulated sex, too -- including orgies -- among both hetero- and bisexual couples.

Language

Strong, unbleeped language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t," along with coarse phrases like, "My p---y gets wet."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and recreational drug use (opium, etc.).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Black Sails heads into choppy territory in terms of sexual content and language -- and it's pretty violent, too. That means you'll see full frontal female nudity, simulated multipartner sex, and characters involved in bisexual relationships. You'll also hear strong, unbleeped language (including crude terms like "c--t" and "p---y") and see bloody swordfights and explosive sea battles, along with characters who drink alcohol and use drugs like opium.

What's the story?

Pleasure is a virtue in the former British colony of New Providence, where pirates patrol the surrounding waters with figurative BLACK SAILS, and lawlessness is practically legal. But tension brews among the crew of the much-feared Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), who's secretly searching for the mother of all treasures while his men grow ever skeptical of his leadership. Meanwhile, cunning newcomer John Silver (Luke Arnold) has his eyes on a prize that proves to be the very thing Flint's been looking for.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Starz is known for its provocative period dramas that put breasts and blood to work for the sake of ratings (see also: Camelot, Spartacus: Blood and Sand), and Black Sails is no exception -- from a steamy, same-sex plotline that plays out with two female lovers to a primitive brawl that ends with the captain covered in another man's blood. But that doesn't mean that Black Sails is solely about sex and violence. It actually has a lot more to offer, including a complex plot and a compelling roster of characters -- both fictional and factual -- that combine to create an effective fantasy world.

Of course, Black Sails was designed for adults, and there's plenty of iffy content here to give parents pause. But for those who might allow older teens to watch, there's at least a silver lining: Since the series was penned as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure tale Treasure Island, it could actually inspire impressionable viewers to read it. Its characters also include notorious real-life pirates like Charles Vane and Anne Bonny, whose fascinating stories -- if kids bother to look them up -- are even stranger than fiction.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Black Sails' premise and its decision to mix fictional characters with factual ones. What are the risks of blending fact and fiction for the sake of good drama? How important is historical accuracy?

  • How faithful is Black Sails to Treasure Island, the classic novel that inspired it? How do the Black Sails characters of Captain Flint, John Silver, and Billy Bones, to name a few, measure up to their literary ancestors?

  • Would Black Sails appeal more to men or to women, or a mixture of both? Who's the intended audience? How can you tell?

TV details

This review of Black Sails was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide