Parents' Guide to

Gentleman Jack

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Unexpectedly gory violence in jaunty LGBTQ period piece.

TV HBO Drama 2019
Gentleman Jack Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 17+

Not worth the Effort

As a feminist I wanted to watch this top drama, with the usually excellent Suranne Jones. However, in this she is a bit of a soap character again. Also I was shocked to find on prime time mainstream terrestrial television that so much explicit, yet nineteenth century, sex was in it. After two episodes I had to stop watching as it was something that was too gratuitous in its portrayal of this historic story. It could be that the fact that the very romantic Bronte sisters lived not far away at the time that inspired this passionate telling of the story. But on the whole even though this is based on her diaries, the way in which the story is told is unbelievable. There was a different televised version with Maxine Peake in the lead a few years ago which was better in my opinion and didn't stereotype Anne Lister so much and was told with sensitivity and nuance that this version lacks.

This title has:

Too much sex
age 15+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Jaunty, sexy, and blessed with a magnetically charismatic lead in Jones, this period drama about an anachronistically bold gay woman is hampered by two problems. One: The stakes are curiously low. Despite the potential peril of being a lesbian in 19th-century England, no one in Anne Lister's circle seems to mind a whit. Her family asks politely after her special friends, clearly aware that they're more than just friends; her servants shrug at Lister's habits; even gossipy neighbors seem delighted by a woman who's clearly letting her freak flag fly. And two: The pacing is odd. Anyone who reads a two-sentence bio of Anne Lister will realize how soon her soulmate-to-be shows up in the proceedings, making such obvious cow's eyes at Lister that the lead tells the camera confidently she's sure the woman is already "thoroughly in love with her."

Given that Lister was a woman of many and tumultuous passions, all faithfully recorded (the most scandalous parts in a code of her own invention) in her voluminous journals, it seems strange that this story would pick up just as she settles down. We meet Lister in mid-life, when she's longing for a slippers-by-the-fire type of settled relationship. As nice as such relationships are to be in, most would agree they're not as interesting to watch play out on a TV series. Even so, there are pleasures to be found in the slow unrolling of Lister's world of business deals and tenants and horses and servants, which is likely to remind more than one viewer of Downton Abbey. If carriages and top hats and neighborly calls are your thrill, it's worth spending a few hours in vintage Shibden with Gentleman Jack, admiring Lister's modern dash and confidence in a bygone world that couldn't possibly appreciate it.

TV Details

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate