Dispatches from Elsewhere

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Dispatches from Elsewhere TV Poster Image
Surreal mystery has tender messages for patient viewers.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Messages about loneliness and the power of human connection are surprisingly sincere and sweet for such an odd show. Curiosity and teamwork are demonstrated as people come together to solve a mystery (and wind up finding each other). 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are realistic and treated sympathetically; they have experienced trauma and are struggling yet actively working to improve their lives. The cast boasts diversity in terms of race, age, gender identity, and socioeconomic status. A trans character's gender identity is treated as incidental, not that important in the grand scheme of the show, and she's given respect and dignity. 


Violence is generally trying to make a larger point, like when Simone maces and kicks two men who menace her when she's walking down the street at night to show how she's viewed by the world.


Two characters in particular share an attraction; expect talk of romance, kissing, romantic complications. 


Language is infrequent but expect to hear "s--t," "ass," "sons of bitches." In one scene, Simone snarls at someone "You ass-sucking piece of s--t," and calls them an "ass-face." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dispatches from Elsewhere is a surreal show about a group of people caught up in a mystery that may be a prank, a game, a conspiracy, or something else. Though the themes of the show (the importance of connecting to other people and showing kindness) are somewhat mature and the show isn't always easy to follow, the amount of iffy content is relatively low. Language is infrequent, but does include "s--t," "ass," and "bitch." Two characters share a genuine and slowly building attraction; expect romantic complications, kissing, flirting. A character is trans and everyone accepts her for who she is. Violence is also infrequent, though in one scene a character walking home alone is set upon by a pair of men who she maces and kicks until they're lying on the ground. Characters are realistic and sympathetic, as well as diverse in terms of age, race, gender identity, and socioeconomic status. Messages of curiosity and teamwork predominate, as quirky individuals looking for something team up to solve a mystery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychrisdye2025 March 6, 2020

the only problem ive had so far is alot of profanity

okay so here we go this show is a pure gem no doubt even without considering it i see the magic of this how
show however there is alot of profanity ]though the... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Inspired by a surreal real-life game in San Francisco, DISPATCHES FROM ELSEWHERE was created by and stars Jason Segel as Peter, an unhappy and bored man whose life abruptly changes when he makes contact with a mysterious society. A phone call directs him to an otherworldly office building, where he's "inducted" into the society, after which messages direct him to visit various locations to pick up strange packages or find something or someone, he's not sure what or who. Along the way, he's linked to Simone (Eve Lindley), a joyous adventurer with a traumatic past, Janice (Sally Field), a lonely upper-middle-class woman, and Fredwynn (Andre Benjamin), a man who sees paranoid designs everywhere. None of them are quite sure what force has taken over their lives, but each is searching for something -- is this the way they can find it at last? 

Is it any good?

Arrestingly odd with a tender message about the value of human connection underneath, this one-of-a-kind series rewards patient viewers who don't mind a twisty narrative throughline. We're notified that we're in for something different from Dispatches from Elsewhere's very first scene, when a piercing Richard E. Grant stares silently from the screen in front of a vivid orange blank background. Twenty-three seconds go by before he begins to speak, just long enough for viewers to have checked to make sure their screen isn't frozen, and, having realized it isn't, to give their full attention to the show. And what a show! Though Segel's hapless Peter starts off with a life so drab even his shirt doesn't have any color, calling a number he ripped off a strange flyer posted to a phone pole gets him invited to an "induction" to a mysterious society (or is it?). Portents, ominous videos, inexplicable phone calls, clues written on walls and objects all follow -- and then in an alleyway shop of "beautiful things," Peter encounters Simone, and realizes there are others on the same adventure as he is. 

That's where the heart of Dispatches from Elsewhere lies; the weird happenings are just window dressing (though it'd be a shame to revel said weird happenings, since many are positively jaw-dropping when they occur). We soon meet up with Janice and Fredwynn, who are directed to join Peter and Simone on their quest. Janice thinks this is all an elaborate prank, Fredwynn sees some type of dark governmental conspiracy, Simone believes they're playing a type of avant-garde game. But Peter hopes it's something different: real magic. That's just what this gripping, gorgeous show has, an emotional pull that casts a spell. It will remind viewers of other surreal mystery shows (Russian DollTwin Peaks and Lost come to mind), but what makes it ultimately more compelling is the message underneath: the real magic is people finding each other. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether knowing the storyline of Dispatches from Elsewhere makes watching the unfolding action less enjoyable. Is it a spoiler to reveal what force is guiding the action in this show? When did the idea of spoilers, and criticism for sharing them, come about? Do you ever share spoilers? Do you mind others doing it? 

  • Families can also talk about whether the characters in Dispatches from Elsewhere are different than others they've seen portrayed on television. Do they come off as stereotypes or as real people? Do they seem like people you might know? Is anyone a role model? Who, if anyone, can be considered heroic in the series?

  • How do the characters in Dispatches from Elsewhere demonstrate curiosity and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

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