A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There is no nobility in this series, which makes a mockery of all of its characters and generally of any moral lessons. Messages tend to be cynical, like "You can't beat a rigged system by playing fair." Conflicts are solved with violence and deceit.
Positive Role Models
Patrick at least wants to help people and do good deeds, but he's generally overwhelmed by those around him who have darker aims. Ironic messages are meant to be funny, but it's hard to swallow lines like one uttered by a teen lothario: "To score with the ladies you have to be a lying dickhole." On the other hand, some characters rise above, such as Norah, a wise and brave female character who helps Patrick with an important goal.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is played for laughs, i.e. a dragon chases a mean man, exhaling what looks like a cloud of red steel wool; the man is reduced to a peg figure painted like a skeleton. Some moments of violence may be upsetting: a cart on fire veers into a kitten orphanage with cute kitties mewing outside; we hear the impact and then wooden kitty heads with x's for eyes roll away. Violence is frequent; characters are blown up, stabbed, strangled, dismembered, and worse, with pools of red jelly standing in for blood. Many jokes have a vulgar/sexual aspect, like a squire contest in which contestants battle by kicking each other in the testicles.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters are animated peg people, but we see them nude, with pubic hair, breasts, and genitals. In a scene in line with other sexual content, a randy queen entertains young men in her bedroom one after another; when Patrick walks in, she's dangling nude from the ceiling and asks him (in vulgar terms) to have sex while dangling from a chandelier. She pushes through his objections (he's a virgin, he's a women, he's pregnant, he has diarrhea), writing them all off as "hot" and notes that if he's under 18, their tryst will be "even hotter." Yet she pulls back when he says he "just doesn't want to," saying "This needs to be consensual, I'm not a monster." In another scene, we see the silhouettes of Patrick's mom and dad having sex on a pool table. Expect lots of vulgar talk, like references to masturbation, casual sex, body parts, and much more.
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Cursing is frequent; expect "motherf--ker," "f--k," "p---y," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "a--hole," "bastards," There are also plenty of vulgar words: "nutsack," "dildo," "crack," "turds."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character is called an "alcoholic" and seems sloppy, slurring his words. Characters drink beer, and scenes are set at taverns.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Crossing Swords is an animated series with lots of mature content set in a historical fantasy kingdom in the Middle Ages. Violence is cartoonish but frequent and gruesome: characters are strangled, pushed off cliffs, stabbed, burnt alive, and more. Blood is rendered as pools of red jelly-like material so it downplays the violence a bit, and death is generally played for laughs, with characters making jokes after deaths and dismemberment. Many jokes have a vulgar aspect, like when characters kick each other in the testicles to win a contest. Otherwise, sexual content is also strong, with many jokes about sex, such as a queen who asks a parade of young men to service her one by one. Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--king," "p---y," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "a--hole," "bastards," as well as words like "nutsack," "dildo," "crack," (meaning a body part) and "turds." One character is called "alcoholic" and frequently seems drunk; other scenes take place in taverns with characters drinking beer. Moral lessons are few and far between and tend to be cynical. Characters generally run the gamut from unpleasant to evil, but some are more grounded and occasionally have flashes of humanity.
Is It Any Good?
This series with lots of sex jokes and not as many pop-culture references as other adult animation shows comes off as a relic from another time. Crossing Swords feels crass instead of refreshingly uninhibited, with a cynical meanness that renders every character unlikeable. Patrick is supposed to be the central heroic touchstone who leads us into a world where medieval foibles make ironic points about our modern lives, but he's so completely surrounded by agents of chaos that any spark of humanity the character has is utterly overwhelmed. Patrick's three siblings are evil, his parents are blithely unconcerned with their son's welfare, the queen and king he works for are corrupt, and every other character we meet can be located on a scale from unappealing to positively vile.
This was a gambit that worked when South Park was the hottest show on TV, but times have changed, and most viewers prefer a streak of sweetness in their comedy, or, failing that, jokes so hilarious that they can overlook mean-spiritedness. But even when a joke lands in Crossing Swords, it's buried by other fallen soldiers. In one episode, Princess Blossom (Maya Erskine) gets her first period and realizes she'll soon be forced to wear a royal chastity belt locked with a "patriar-key." Clever, right? It sure would seem a lot more clever if there weren't also dozens and dozens of jokes in the episode about how gross periods are. It's a shame, because there's an incredible, powerhouse cast voicing these subpar jokes, and the look of the show is fun, with its handmade look and visual puns (watch for plenty of material about how the people-peg characters function with no arms). Crossing Swords raises the occasional chuckle, but considering the amount of talent on board, it feels like a swing and a miss.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.