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Hex

Derivative Brit witchcraft drama fails to enchant.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show pits Cassie, the main character, against Azazeal, an evil fallen angel, but these clearly defined lines of good vs. evil are sometimes muddied by Cassie's use of magic for selfish purposes. These include potentially life-threatening attacks against defenseless bystanders who, though not totally innocent, are clearly no match for a budding witch. The show is set in an English boarding school, but many of the students act like adults, drinking and fooling around whenever they wish.

Violence

Some violent magical rituals; attacks using daggers. Kids might be frightened by the heroine's use of magic as a weapon.

Sex

A few romantic scenes, but none are explicit. Occasional nudity, seen from behind.

Language

Mild use of British slang, but little of it would be considered offensive on either side of the Atlantic.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Party scenes feature drinking and smoking by kids who would be underage in the United States.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this show is all about magic, and that Cassie, the heroine, doesn't always use her powers for good. The English boarding school setting is rife with cliques and petty teenage backstabbing. But there are also more serious assaults upon Cassie by both her classmates and by an evil fallen angel. Cassie's responses to these incidents make it clear that she can be as vicious as any other angry high school student -- and because most people can't use magic against their rivals, some of these spats end up being decidedly one-sided.

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What's the story?

British boarding school Mendenham Hall has a dark secret: Centuries ago, it was home to Lady McBain, a noblewoman with a penchant for witchcraft. Today, it houses hundreds of students with a penchant for all the usual teenage backstabbing. One of them is Cassie Hughes (Christina Cole), who's inherited Lady McBain's magical powers, as well as some of her less-than-noble views about the use of the dark arts. Cassie faces off against Azazeal (Michael Fassbender), a fallen angel with murderous intentions. Cassie's backup against Azazeal is her friend Thelma (Jemima Rooper), who is killed by Azazeal and returns as a spirit to offer magical support to the budding witch.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This unispired British drama does a poor job of explaining how Cassie comes by her powers. Is it because she happened to discover some occult relics in a storage room? Or is there more happening -- was she drawn to these powerful magical items? No matter. Where HEX stumbles is how she chooses to use her powers. Most movies and shows about kids and witchcraft make it obvious that demons are evil and that magic should be used for good. Though this makes some of these stories predictable, it's also an important reason why fans enjoy siding with their favorite fiend-fighting teens, from Buffy to Harry Potter.

But in Hex, when she's not saving the world, Cassie isn't above using her powers against other students for purely selfish aims. Yes, many of her classmates conform to all the stereotypes of vapid, self-centered teens common to shows about wealthy students, and yes, they can be cruel, sometimes pathologically so. But that doesn't make them appropriate targets for Cassie's potentially life-threatening magical attacks, which earn Thelma's disapproval and make it hard for the audience to root for her. It also makes Hex a questionable choice for tweens and teens, who need good role models more than they need shows about magic.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what they would do if they suddenly discovered they had magical powers. Would it be OK to use magic for purely selfish goals? Despite some of Cassie's poor choices when dealing with unpleasant fellow students, the series' core conflict is nothing less than good vs. evil, and it's clear that in the larger conflict, Cassie is on the side of good. Does that justify any of her questionable behavior?

TV details

Premiere date:June 8, 2006
Cast:Amber Sainsbury, Jamie Davis, Jemima Rooper
Network:BBC America
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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