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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Frontier is a historical drama about the Canadian fur trade turf wars in the 1700s. Fictional renegade trader Declan Harp, a half-Irish, half-Native American, attempts to disrupt the English domination of the fur trade with brutal, submit-to-me-or-suffer tactics. But the English-ruling Hudson's Bay Co. executives aren't going away without a fight and have their own forms of brutality. Viewers see all sides' wicked ways in gory detail: Expect throat slitting, stabbings, discussions about disemboweling, finger removal, and the cutting off of genitals and other body parts. Although it's an attempt to make a lesser-known piece of history interesting, teens will probably be bored, and it's not really appropriate for them anyway.
Love this show! Full of adventure and love story to boot.
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What's the Story?
Set in the 1700s Canadian wilderness, FRONTIER begins with two scenes of warring factions killing (or talking about killing) rivals in the fur trade. In a parallel storyline, three impoverished bandits in London prepare to rob an English Hudson's Bay Co. ship headed to the fur-trading lands. They're discovered, one of the three is killed, the other (a girl) is imprisoned, and the third, Michael Smyth (the girl's love interest), hides and becomes an accidental stowaway. Lord Benton, a bigwig in the Hudson's Bay Co., compels Smyth to find his nemesis, Declan Harp, or endanger himself and his love back in England. Smyth runs into trouble at every turn. Whom can he trust?
Is It Any Good?
This series' detailed talk about torture and killing adds nothing to the drama but audio gore to intensify the visual violence. While the natural setting where the fur trade took place in Canada is incredibly beautiful, the rest of Frontier is either brutally boring or just plain brutal.
This series' first episode begins with a wilderness fireside throat-slitting and an English lunchtime chat about dismembering enemies. From there, it gets more violent. Frontier follows the standard formula of many dramas set in the days of New World exploration and Wild West pioneering: Two sides fight for power. Unsuspecting underling gets caught up in the battles of the powerful. Underling, motivated by his love of a girl who's held captive, takes an impossible hero's journey.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how turf wars throughout history were brutal, even outside of officially declared war. In what ways was the pro-fur land depicted in Frontier similar to today's conflicts around the world? How was it different?
Discuss the roles of the female characters on Frontier. How did Grace Emberly get her power in this male-dominated time and place? What role did the Native American woman play in Declan's gang? How were other women depicted?
Talk about Michael Smyth's predicament. Would you have made the same choices he's made, for survival or for loyalty?
- Premiere date: January 20, 2017
- Cast: Jason Momoa, Landon Liboiron, Alun Armstrong
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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