A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Love, loyalty, and friendship are key themes. Good versus evil, innocence lost, and challenging oppressive religious authority are also themes throughout.
Positive Role Models
Lyra is strong, courageous, fiercely loyal. Lord Asriel, Mrs. Coulter, and others have very dark agendas and characteristics, while other people and animals prove themselves to be good friends and dependable comrades throughout.
Young female main character Lyra is incredibly brave and strong-willed, but she also learns and grows as the story progresses. Will -- played by British Sudanese actor Amir Wilson -- becomes Lyra's close ally and friend. Both are portrayed as complex characters. A few examples of racial diversity in the supporting cast include Lin-Manuel Miranda (who's Puerto Rican) and Ariyon Bakare (British Nigerian). The fictional boat-dwelling "Gyptians" could be seen as a nod to groups such as Irish Travellers or Romani people, though this isn't made explicit.
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Violence & Scariness
Sad deaths of major and minor characters. Children are kidnapped. Adults cause kids harm in various ways, including horrifically painful separations from their companion animals. Some abusive behavior, such as hitting, is directed toward animals. Coffins, skeletons, and other scary images can be seen. Animals fight each other, including a brutal battle between armored polar bears. Peril. Serious wounds.
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Infrequent profanity. One person shouts, "Damn you!"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Bottles of alcohol are visible at the college. Lyra suggests taking a drink but spits it out. In another scene, someone attempts to poison a person's wine. Adults sip alcohol at a cocktail party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that His Dark Materials is an adaptation of Philip Pullman's excellent fantasy book series of the same name. Themes include challenging the religious establishment, loss of innocence, and the battle/tension between good and evil. Expect violence and peril: Children are kidnapped, and adults cause kids pain and death. Sympathetic characters die, and there are sometimes-brutal fights and attacks, as well as serious wounds. Bottles of wine are visible at the college, and adults sip alcohol at a party. An adolescent attempts to take a drink but spits it out, and other mysterious substances are present. The show highlights many of the books' key messages, including love, loyalty, friendship, the importance of free thinking, and fighting for what's right. Characters demonstrate courage, curiosity, empathy, integrity, perseverance, and teamwork.
Is It Any Good?
This series presents a complicated story that viewers unfamiliar with the popular (and controversial) books may have a tough time following. Fans of the story world will find that significant pieces of the books' plot are missing, and other parts are shifted around, no doubt in an attempt to make His Dark Materials more TV-friendly. But Keen's performance is strong, and the robust cast, which includes the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anne-Marie Duff, and Game of Thrones star James Cosmo, is worth investing in. The series' visual elements, including the physical daemons that play such an important role in the story, are also exceptional. His Dark Materials isn't the perfect adaptation of a successful book, but it does offer some magical moments that viewers can hold on to.
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.