Parents' Guide to

Downton Abbey

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Absorbing costume series is perfect watch-together fare.

TV PBS Drama 2010
Downton Abbey Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 22 parent reviews

age 16+

Not for Conservative Families unless looking for discussion topics

Most of this is great but as a conservative family topics like affairs and homosexuality exist so be prepared so that you can decide whats best for your family and prepare and discuss as you see fit if you should choose to let them watch it.

This title has:

Too much sex
2 people found this helpful.
age 14+

Addictive, absorbing, and fabulous drama is a perfect mother-daughter conversation starter

After the first episode, I thought, “What’s all the hype about?” My mom thought the same thing. So we watched the second episode (all seasons and the second movie are free on Prime Video, so we didn’t have anything to lose but time) and we were absolutely hooked ever since. After watching all six seasons (all of them are fabulous besides most of season two, the first movie sucks, and the second movie is just ok) I can say that this series is totally addictive. The acting is great, (ok, fine, besides Daisy’s accent) the score is beautiful, (check out Such Good Luck and Nothing to Forgive, my personal favorite scores from the series) and the romances can be breathtaking (Mary and Matthew are still the best couple, in my opinion). So should you watch it? Well, I’ll leave that up to you. But I definitely recommend it. Content: Sexy stuff: Well, sexy stuff is mostly limited to married couples kissing and making lightly suggestive jokes (sometimes in bed), but sometimes an unmarried couple will have sex (nothing shown but kissing) and this always has HUGE consequences. Thomas’s gay status brings him shame and anger, nothing is discussed explicitly, but there are two scenes of gay kissing, once in the first episode of the first season, and once in the third season. We skipped through them, (it’s super easy to tell when one’s coming) so besides that the gay drama is somewhat minimal considering how much people talk about it. It’s definitely there, but not so much so that my family couldn’t skip through and still not enjoy. Honestly, it’s the sexual assault scene in season four that is the absolute worst part of the show for me. (This is the absolute worst scene in the entire show. It’s absolutely horrible, I’d suggest just skipping this part.) Anna the maid is cornered in the kitchen by a valet of a guest, (a singer is upstairs, her beautiful voice covering up Anna’s screams) and when she asks him politely to leave her alone, he forces a kiss on her. She shoves him away, and he punches her brutally on the face. The camera pans away to the singer, then back to Anna, where the man drags Anna into a room, screaming, and then pans away again. It then shows the hallway with all the doors closed, Anna and the valet are clearly in one of the rooms, Anna’s screams echoing around. When Mrs. Hughes finds her, she is bruised, bloody, and her clothes are torn. In the next episode, Mrs. Hughes asks if Anna is pregnant, and Anna says that she will kill herself if she is. (She’s not, and she doesn’t, but still, this line alone is not for tweens) (Joanne Froggatt, Anna’s actress, plays the part of the victim a little too well. It can be very unsettling.) The way the camera pans back and forth between the horrifying assault scene and the sparkly, fancy, happy crowd upstairs makes it super creepy, too. I’m sorry if this was too descriptive, but this is something parents need to know before trying out this show. Another mature topic is abortion, which is actually handled far better than the way the show handled sexual assault and homosexuality. Edith gets pregnant by a married man, (his wife is in an insane asylum and she doesn’t recognize him at all, and English law doesn’t allow him to divorce her) and she contemplates an abortion, (the weight and heaviness and incredible sadness of this decision are portrayed well, I thought) but she realizes that she just can’t do it. She actually becomes the best mother on the show. Violence: War scenes and injuries and medical emergencies, nothing super violent, though there can be some blood and needles involved. Language: Nothing much: Bloody, an occasional d**n, and an occasional h**l. Conclusion: Downton Abbey is pretty great. I would definitely recommend it, but use some caution, especially in the beginning of season four. I hope this review helped!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (22):
Kids say (50):

For fans of costume dramas, this Masterpiece Classic series (originally broadcast on the BBC in England) is a complete delight, even if it sometimes veers into melodrama. Attention to detail really draws viewers into the time period -- there's the sprawling estate, the classic cars, the first telephone, the newspapers ironed every morning, etc.. But of course it's the dresses and hats that really steal the show.

Interwoven stories are compelling both upstairs and down, and all the acting is good and occasionally superb -- Smith's sneering Dowager Countess takes relaying gossip to an art form. And sisters Mary and Edith really know how to torment each other. But for some viewers, the petty fighting and gossip might get a little tiresome, leaving characters like Mary harder to root for and the motivations of some, like the always-scheming Thomas the footman, a little hard to understand. But the lack of reflection and redemption doesn't make Downton Abbey any less compelling.

TV Details

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