By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Lush drama is light on accuracy, heavy on sex and violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The main character's goal is to live a life of adventure, but thematic obstacles along the way include deceit, betrayal, and revenge.
Positive Role Models
Young Marco is enthusiastic about seeing the world and learning new customs and generally leans toward honesty. The show as a whole, however, presents a mixed bag of characters with complex -- and often nefarious -- motives.
Violence & Scariness
Swordplay, warfare, and martial-arts battles; death, including by impalement. Show is bloody but stops short of being gory.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex is graphic with bare breasts, full-frontal nudity, multiple partners, orgies, and so on.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Suggestions of drug use (pipes, white powder), but substances aren't identifiable.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Marco Polo tends to play loose with historical facts in favor of eye-catching visuals, from bloody battles to graphic orgies with full-frontal nudity. Which is to say, it's intended for mature audiences. Language is minor, but you'll see frank depictions of sex and violence and characters using mind-altering substances such as opium.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 5 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
When his merchant father turns him over to Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong) in exchange for open trade routes, young MARCO POLO (Lorenzo Richelmy) finds himself in service to the merciless ruler and working as a scout to gather valuable information about the Khan's adversaries. But he also must spend his time training with a blind martial-arts expert (Tom Wu) and navigating the ins and outs of an unfamiliar culture.
Is It Any Good?
Launched in the wake of critically acclaimed Netflix series such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, Marco Polo seeks to capitalize on the streaming service's forward momentum as a maker of popular original content. But, although the sweeping period drama boasts stunning vistas, meticulous costuming, and some impressive action, what it lacks is a compelling story and three-dimensional characters who are actually worth caring about. What you're left with is a series that looks expensive but somehow makes you feel like you got shortchanged.
What it has in abundance, of course, is sex -- lots and lots of sex -- which is likely by design to keep audiences watching. And, although there are historical tidbits amid all the bed-hopping, facts generally take a backseat to flashy visuals and improbable plot twists that take The Travels of Marco Polo (the 13th-century travel tome that inspired this series) into boldly mature territory.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the real-life Marco Polo and how accurately this series portrays his experiences. What creative liberties do the writers take, and why? How important is it to stick to the facts when centering a show on a historical figure?
Is a series that's engineered for "binge-watching" such as Marco Polo structured differently from other shows? How have online content providers such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu changed the way television is created and consumed?
When it comes to content, are there lines that an exclusively streaming series like Marco Polo can cross that network and even pay-cable shows can't? What are the advantages and disadvantages when a show is available via streaming-only?
- Premiere date: December 12, 2014
- Cast: Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Chin Han
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, History
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
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