Godless

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Godless TV Poster Image
So-so Western is well-acted but moves at a snail's pace.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Many of the characters show resolve and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The women of La Belle push through and work hard to rebuild their lives and their town after a mine explosion kills most of their husbands, fathers, sons, and other able-bodied males. We don't get to know any of the characters of color very well, but Alice Fletcher's mother-in-law -- a Paiute Indian woman -- is shown to be a smart, skilled healer.

Violence

Lots of gunplay, with some pretty brutal, bloody scenes of people being shot. A woman's torso is cut up the middle with a hunting knife. One character's arm is shot up to the point that it's hanging off his body, and there's a graphic shot of the aftermath when he has a surgeon cut it off. Multiple scenes of rape and violence against women and children (a child is shown hanging from a noose). There's arson, and a scary scene where a rattlesnake moves to attack a helpless infant. Some racial tensions between members of the white mining company and the black and Native American characters (one character threatens and spits on a young Paiute Indian boy). 

Sex

Male and female nudity is shown, often under violent circumstances. A same-sex relationship is implied between two female characters, kissing is shown. Some suggestive banter. One character is a former prostitute who discusses her trade.

Language

Damn, hell, bastard, the "F" word.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Multiple scenes in bars where whiskey is imbibed. Some smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Godless is a bloody, often brutal Western series featuring scenes of disturbing violence and lots of dead bodies. There's gunplay galore, as well as scenes of violence against children (a young boy is shown hanging from a noose). There's some nudity and multiple depictions of rape. The language is harsh, and characters are shown smoking and drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySamuel L. January 15, 2018

Slow but good character and story driven drama

Godless is a western miniseries about a small town in which almost all men were killed in a tragic mining accident. Roy Goode stumbles upon the place of a widow... Continue reading
Parent of a 5, 7, and 10 year old Written bykcgunesq December 22, 2017

Good, solid series.

1. Overall, a good story, well executed. 2. I find it refreshing that they felt comfortable resolving this story in 6 episodes instead of trying to drag it o... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTashiDog July 11, 2018

A Smart Show with Great Characters

Godless is an amazing show with great, well written, well acted characters. The show also has good cinematography, set pieces, and directing, as well as some in... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set among the dusty vistas of 1880s New Mexico, GODLESS follows demented outlaw Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) on a bloodthirsty hunt for his former partner, Roy Goode (Jack O'Connell), who betrayed him during a train robbery gone wrong. Roy holes up at the ranch of the headstrong widow Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery), who harbors him in exchange for his horse-training skills. Frank's ruthless quest for retribution leads him to the strange town of La Belle, whose populace is made up almost entirely of women, due to a mining accident that killed most of their able-bodied males.

Is it any good?

The marketing for this show focused so much on the female-heavy cast -- the tagline is "Welcome to No Man's Land," even -- that one could be forgiven for assuming it would center on the women of La Belle, the mysterious town in the middle of it all. However, it's still very much a traditional Western, wherein macho outlaws and misunderstood gunslingers are given the limelight, while the female characters exist mainly to react to stuff. It's well-acted, to be sure -- Merritt Wever's no-nonsense, trouser-clad Mary Agnes is a notable standout -- but it would have been nice to see the women's stories move forward and take shape without the toxic masculinity we've already seen so many times before in this genre serving as their catalyst.

The pace is maddeningly slow, perhaps due to the fact that Godless was originally conceived as a movie but was stretched out into a seven-episode series once it was sold to Netflix. There's promise here, however, and the show may hopefully find its footing with a second season that focuses less on repetitive scenes of horse training and generic henchmen being threatening, and more on the backstory of La Belle and the dynamics between its inhabitants.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way violence is used in Godless. Does it seem necessary to the story, or is it gratuitous?

  • Mining accidents like the one in Godless really did happen back in the day, and women would be forced to move on to another town, or stay and rebuild. What kind of challenges do you think a situation like this would present for women, especially given their limited rights during this time? Do you think Godless did a good job portraying the reality of such an ordeal?

TV details

For kids who love Westerns

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