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 Game of Thrones (based on the novels by George R.R. Martin) is big-budget fantasy series that frequently depicts brutal battles and graphic, detailed acts of violence (including those against children and women), as well as lots of nudity and no-holds-barred sexuality. The latter is portrayed in an especially iffy manner, with explicit discussion and depiction of incest, adultery, and rape. Strong language, including "f--k," is frequent. Although the series is well produced, even the most sympathetic characters make plenty of iffy choices, and the over-the-top content is questionable for all but adult viewers.
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What's the story?
Adapted from the popular series of fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, GAME OF THRONES is set in the fictional medieval kingdom of Westeros and follows a large cast of intertwined characters through political intrigue, emotional drama, and fierce battles. Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) begins as the show's central figure, acting as chief adviser for his boyhood friend King Robert (Mark Addy). Stark must act as protector and patriarch of his family and the throne itself as threats emerge from both distant lands and nearby traitors. As the series progresses, betrayals large and small change the political landscape of Westeros irreversibly, leading to ever more complicated alliances and plot twists -- not to mention brutal battles and struggles for survival.
Is it any good?
As with most HBO series, Game of Thrones benefits greatly from the budget and talent poured into its execution. This is an artful series; the script is intelligently written, the show is well-acted, and the direction and cinematography are easily on par with any Oscar-nominated film. It's easy to get drawn into the machinations of Westeros; the show is compulsive viewing.
All that said, there are moments of brutal violence and sexuality that might pull viewers who aren't ready for them out of the narrative. Certainly Westeros is a dark world inhabited by some very disturbing characters, but the violence is at times lingered upon in a very unsettling way. Although these moments may be mitigated by later plot developments, that doesn't change their impact as they happen. For viewers who can tolerate these incidents, the merits of the series may win out, but it won't be for everyone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of sexual violence on television. Is the sex depicted in Game of Thrones appropriate for the story? What messages do viewers take away about sex from watching this series?
Does the show's violence go too far? Is it too graphic? Why, or why not?
What are women's roles in this series? Are they important players, or accessories? What about people of color? Where do they fit in?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy
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