A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes of race, sex, gender, power, and class are prominent. The series' sympathies are clearly with those who are marginalized.
Positive Role Models
Dana, a young Black woman who is an aspiring writer, is at the center of this narrative. She has agency and confidence in her real life yet is constrained by power and legal dynamics in the 19th century. We understand her plight, and she's a sympathetic, relatable character.
Main character is a 26-year-old Black woman; many other characters are Black. In the 19th century, these characters are enslaved, and White characters are the ones in power; in modern times, the power differential is more complicated. Race is central to this drama. Black characters have agency and are complex and realistic.
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Violence & Scariness
Many scenes take place in antebellum times, when main character is a slave and thus in constant mortal danger. In opening scene we see she has bloody welts on her back, ostensibly from being whipped. She is subject to further violence, including being held at gunpoint, chased, thrown violently to the ground, threatened with sexual violence. An abusive father threatens to "whip the skin" off his son, who is terrified and says his father will kill him.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main character Dana is in a new romance with a new partner, Kevin, and we see the two of them kissing, falling into bed, and beginning to remove clothing before the camera cuts away and we see them cuddling in bed, seemingly naked and covered by sheets.
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Language and cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," "f--ker," as well as off-color language like "douche bags" and racial language like "negro."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink at dinner; one character tells another to "go easy on the wine."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kindred is a series based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Octavia E. Butler that relates the story of a young Black woman who unexpectedly begins traveling in time, back to the slave-owning American south. As might be expected, she's in grave danger in 1815, where she is beaten, strangled, threatened with death, held at gunpoint, and subjected to sexual violence. Other Black characters are also brutalized and threatened, and called slurs that relate to their race and sex work ("whore"). Sexual content includes characters kissing in bed before the camera cuts away to find them cuddling in bed, covered by a sheet. Cursing and language includes "f--k" and "bullshit." Race and gender play a part in this story; expect to see many incidents in which one group of people cowers and another bullies, threatens, and sometimes rapes, maims, and kills.
Is It Any Good?
This beguiling book-turned-series takes its time getting somewhere, but it's a ride you won't mind going on, intriguing as the setup and execution are. The setup is the same in Olivia Butler's iconic novel, transported to modern times: Characters have phones and social media accounts. The 1815 part of the equation remains unchanged, with Dana inexplicably and unpredictably disappearing from her real life and transported bodily to a southern plantation where she's as endangered as any woman of color in slaveholding times in a slaveholding state.
It was a groundbreaking premise in Octavia Butler's 1979 novel, and fans have been vocal in their criticism of this adaptation, complaining that some of the themes of Butler's story have been lost. That may be so, but Kindred still presents an interesting mystery (Why is Dana time traveling, and can she stop?) and meaty messages about race, class, power, and gender. As Dana, Mallori Johnson is called upon to navigate tricky tonal shifts, and she's appealing and natural, a strong and complicated female character audiences will want to watch, caught in the grip of something she can't control or understand.
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.