Halt and Catch Fire TV Poster Image

Halt and Catch Fire



Period tech drama is fascinating, but expect sexy stuff.
  • Network: AMC
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Morality can be murky, but the series glamorizes innovation, passion, and drive -- and the hard work that goes into it. 

Positive role models

The main characters' moral decision-making is somewhat fluid, but they're working toward an important goal with shared passion. Female characters are sparse but make for strong, unconventional role models who buck reductive stereotypes.


Infrequent fistfights and shouting matches.


No sensitive body parts are shown, but simulated sex can be steamy and suggestive.


Unbleeped language includes words such as "son of a bitch" and "bulls--t."


Real-life tech companies that play a role in the plot include IBM, Texas Instruments, and Apple.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking sometimes leads to recklessness and poor decision-making. Characters smoke cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Halt and Catch Fire is a fast-moving period drama set in the 1980s that features unbleeped swearing (from "ass" and "balls" to "bulls--t") and simulated sex that's suggestive but steers clear of showing sensitive body parts. There's also some occasional social drinking and mild violence (fistfights and verbal arguments).

Parents say

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What's the story?

Set on the flats of Texas' "Silicon Prairie" circa 1983, HALT AND CATCH FIRE follows a trio of tech-industry risktakers who set out to build a better personal computer. Spearheading the project is Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace), a former IBM executive who recruits a disillusioned engineer (Scoot McNairy) to dissect his ex-employer's flagship PC but must add an unpredictable prodigy (Mackenzie Davis) to the mix when IBM threatens to sue.

Is it any good?


There are shades of Don Draper to Halt and Catch Fire's charismatic Joe MacMillan, and that's probably no coincidence, considering the show debuted near the end of Mad Men. And so the network delivers another period hero who is handsome, mysterious, and ever charming, drawing the doubtful into his web -- and drawing in viewers, too -- with a seductive quality that's hard to ignore.

Of course, Halt and Catch Fire's characters are fictional, but, since their stories are set in a real time and place, both parents and teens who watch stand to learn something. (Lesson 1: There's a lot more to high-tech history than Silicon Valley.) The real success of the series, though, is its ability to make old technology feel new by turning the complicated language of computing into a narrative modern audiences can relate to.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Halt and Catch Fire's premise and the risks of blending fictional and factual storytelling. How accurate is the show's portrayal of the Texas tech industry in the 1980s? How are viewers supposed to know what's fact and what's fiction?

  • What role do women play in the show's central plot? What would this show be like if there were more female characters? None?

  • How has technology changed since the advent of the world's first personal computer? What are the pros and cons of today's highly portable technology? Where do we go next?

TV details

Premiere date:June 1, 2014
Cast:Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis
Topics:History, Misfits and underdogs, Science and nature
TV rating:TV-14

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byJoanMacmillan November 1, 2014


To be truthful, us kids are exposed to much more than swearing and sex, so you might as well stop trying to censor it all out. We will all find out eventually, some earlier than others. I learned about sex at 7. Ya, 7. So it doesn't matter anymore. Although, it's not very likely kids my age are going to interested. I probably wouldn't of ever heard of it if it wasn't for Lee Pace.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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