A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
As an adaptation of a literary classic, this TV series can be helpful as an educational tool when studying the author or era.
Teaches the importance of being kind and not judging others, and that true love can't be calculated or organized.
Positive Role Models
Emma is well-meaning and devoted to taking care of her father and helping friends find happiness -- though her motives are sometimes selfish and her behavior thoughtless. Mr. Knightley is mature, kind, and perceptive -- seeing beyond charm, status, and beauty. Some people are preoccupied with class and position, though this isn't shown to be a measure of good character. Though there is good gender diversity amongst the characters, they are all predominantly white.
Violence & Scariness
An attack in the woods sees a character knocked to the floor and their money stolen. There is mention of death -- including the passing of parents -- and a dead body is shown in a casket.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romance and matchmaking are central themes. Characters kiss briefly on the lips.
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Products & Purchases
Wealth and class are highly regarded, in keeping with society at the time. A piano is gifted from an admirer.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol on a few occasions, including wine and beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Emma is an enjoyable mini-series, adapted from Jane Austen's novel of the same name, and stars Romola Garai in the title role. It is a costume drama set in the early 19th century that follows the lives of high society and frequently refers to class and wealth. In keeping with the original source material, there is little to offend here in terms of language, sex, or violence, though characters do drink alcohol in mild amounts on occasion. Though romance is at the heart of the story, a brief kiss on the lips is as racy as it gets. Death is mentioned, including the loss of a mother, and a dead body is shown in a casket. Well made and perfectly cast, the series is lively and fun, and will likely hold younger viewers' attention more than the genre might imply.
Is It Any Good?
There's no shortage of Jane Austen adaptations on-screen, but few really capture the essence to impress purists. This 2009 mini-series of the much-loved Emma makes a strong attempt, led by a vivid central performance from Garai as the cheerfully misguided matchmaker. Channeling some of the unpredictability and impulsiveness that Alicia Silverstone brought to the role in the 1995 teen adaptation, Clueless, alongside a more refrained and considered approach in keeping with the period, Garai quite rightfully steals the show and is captivating to watch throughout the four episodes. Only Tamsin Greig momentarily diverts attention from the Golden Globe nominee, her comedy chops honed to perfection as town bore Miss Bates.
The costume and set design are stunning, bringing the era to life in fantastic detail, from hushed parlors and elegant ballrooms to busy markets and acres of wide-open grounds. Period dramas can get a bad reputation as a bit of an endurance test, but these four episodes fly by, light and whimsical, and full of humor to boot. A strong adaptation to add to a prolific literary cannon.
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.