Parents' Guide to


By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Powerful, complex, mature drama dives into gender identity.

TV Hulu Drama 2019
Butterfly Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+


This should not be shown to anyone but especially not gender confused kids. This is about not accepting gender non conformity. You are a bit who likes to play with dolls? You must be a girl then really. This is homophobia repackaged for our times. Children shouldn’t be told you can change sex or herded towards irreversible treatments and surgeries.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

When Max wants to be Maxine, his family unravels -- and then knits itself back together, slowly, painfully, and on a foundation of honesty and acceptance in this powerful, moving drama. When Butterfly opens, Max's gender differences are painted as "acting out," particularly by his conflicted father, who, we soon learn, thinks if he can provide a strong role model for his son he can prevent him from changing his identity. But though Max is able to feign a veneer of boy-ness in front of his dad, inside, being called "him" and "he," wearing the drab uniform of other boys at his school, and, most of all, using the boys' bathroom, is eating him up. "I'm lost," he tells his father, who says honestly back, "I don't want my little boy taken away."

But that Max is already gone. It only takes a little bit of support from Maxine's compassionate, accepting sister Lily to get her to admit it to their parents. There's a positively beautiful scene in the show's first episode in which Lily urges a miserable Max, sitting alone at recess to "join in" with the other students. "With who?" he shoots back, indicating the little knots of boys playing games he doesn't want to play, girls relating in ways he's been told not to. "With who you really want to," Lily tells him, and before long he's dancing, exhilarated, with a group of girls. Soon, the newly named Maxine will launch into the gender-variant world, with its hormone blockers and support groups and supportive YouTube videos. But she actually crosses over in this moment, when her private desires triumph over the ill-fitting public persona that was forced on her. In moments like this, and many others, this realistic, complex show is truly beautiful.

TV Details

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