Halt and Catch Fire

Common Sense Media says

Period tech drama is fascinating, but expect sexy stuff.

Age(i)

2
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8
9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

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.

Violence

Infrequent fistfights and shouting matches.

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism

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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Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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

This review of Halt and Catch Fire was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byJoanMacmillan November 1, 2014
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Meh

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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