Emerald City

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Emerald City TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Wizard of Oz meets Game of Thrones in dark remake.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Based loosely on classic children's stories that offer powerful, meaty roles for female characters, this series updates the old stories with a diverse cast and retains the strong women. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dorothy Gale is a "healer" (a nurse) who tries to help those who need it. Authority figures such as the Wizard and Glinda often have hidden agendas.


Gritty violence for network standards: Characters are killed on-screen and suddenly by stabbing and shooting; blood is visible, but no gore. Characters are held in prisons and subjected to (unseen) torture while they moan in pain; a woman is dunked in water to get her to confess to a crime. A bludgeoning takes place offscreen. 


A witch's realm is populated by half-dressed men and women who flirt and kiss at what looks like a clothed orgy; a powerful woman says she couldn't be chaste because there's "too much love to be had." A woman sexually moans on top of a man; no nudity is visible.


Mild infrequent cursing: "dammit." Characters sometimes insult each other: "You wretched waste." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Opium-filled pollen floats through the air and coats the ground; those who breathe it get sleepy. Pollen is sold and bought like drugs in the Emerald City. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Emerald City is based on the classic Land of Oz series of kids' books, but this dark take isn't intended for young viewers. In this version, Dorothy Gale and most other characters are adults, and there's more violence than in L. Frank Baum's books. Characters are suddenly killed by stabbing and shooting; we see blood spatters and pools but no gore. Dead bodies are in view; a bludgeoning takes place offscreen, accompanied by pulpy noises. Even a "good" witch has a hidden agenda; another witch rules over a realm that seems to host a never-ending orgy (attendees are clothed and merely flirting and kissing, albeit in groups). Poppy pollen (aka opium, as one character clarifies) is bought and sold like a street drug. A monstrous beast threatens to destroy the entire land of Oz. Some characters can perform magic, causing explosions, unseen pain, and objects to move.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySadman July 19, 2017

Tries too hard to be Game of Thrones lite

I get that doing a straight out retelling of the original Baum story wouldn't fly today. And there is precedent for a modernized version to work (The Wiz).... Continue reading
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byLinda M. January 28, 2017
Teen, 16 years old Written byx999x December 16, 2020

favorite show

it is really good! i highly recommend it to everyone.

What's the story?

When a tornado strikes a tiny Kansas town and takes nurse Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) on a terrifying ride into the sky, she wakes up in a mysterious new land, already branded a criminal by the locals for accidentally killing the powerful Witch of the East. Her fate? To walk the yellow road to the EMERALD CITY and await the judgment of the Wizard of Oz (Vincent D'Onofrio). But Dorothy's journey isn't fated to be a smooth one, even with volatile new pal Lucas (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) as a walking companion, because the pair seem to have a gift for trouble. They soon run afoul of the Witch of the West (Ana Ularu) and Glinda, the (so-called?) "good" Witch of the North (Joely Richardson), and the complicated politics of Oz. 

Is it any good?

This reimagining of the classic Land of Oz stories clearly wants to be a network-TV Game of Thrones but doesn't reach the same storytelling heights. In fact, despite the stellar source material, Emerald City drags a bit rather than carrying viewers along on clouds of transfixed enchantment. On the plus side, Emerald City mines other Oz books, not only the original (and oft-adapted, frequently clumsily) Wonderful Wizard of Oz, for plot and characters -- a savvy move, since there's plenty of meat in Baum's other books. A few characters in Emerald City are imported from The Marvelous Land of Oz, a surprisingly feminist story in which a young boy is transformed into a girl who's the rightful ruler of Oz.

But nothing happens quickly, and most of the characters are rather unpleasant, leaving the viewer with no one to root for. Dorothy is a dull cipher, her Scarecrow-like companion a murderer, and the Wizard of Oz apparently deals in drugs and back-door politics. We knew to watch out for the Witch of the West (here a drug-addled sensualist scheming to increase her power), but in this adaptation, even Glinda has no joy for Dorothy. It's not that this series lacks for plot twists -- it's just that it's not a lot of fun. Considering how imaginative and entertaining Baum's novels were, that's a real crime. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why classic stories are frequently fodder for more than one dramatic retelling. What other Wizard of Oz remakes can you name other than Emerald City? Why is a familiar story used as a jumping-off point for a new story? 

  • The original Land of Oz books are intended for children. Is this series intended for children? How can you tell? Why would a children's story be made for older viewers? 

  • Fantastic lands with magic and supernatural happenings are a frequent setting for movies and TV shows. What other fictional realms can you name? How are they similar to or different from Oz? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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