Masters of Sex

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Masters of Sex TV Poster Image
Titillating period drama shows the sexier side of science.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

 Sex is viewed as normal, positive, and worthy of study. Female empowerment, infidelity, and racial divides are themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Masters and Johnson are committed to their research for scientific reasons. Their professional relationship eventually leads to questionable behavior. 


Physical fights occasionally break out among characters; blood, bruises, and stitching up visible. Childhood abuse is a theme. 


The entire show is about sex and sexual response. Occasional explicit sex acts visible. Nudity is frequent (breast, nipples, bottoms). Impotence is a theme.  


Unbleeped swearing includes "f--k" along with colorful sexual slang such as "twat," "hump," and "cum."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (hard liquor) is frequent and often excessive; often leads to negative behaviors. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Masters of Sex examines the life and work of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, a pair of pioneering researchers who studied the physiological aspect of human sexual response in the 1950s and '60s. You'll see plenty of simulated and explicit sex acts and lots of nudity and hear characters frankly discuss dildos, orgasms, and blow jobs (along with some unbleeped swearing). The show also delves into titillating social issues -- including sexism, racism, and the nature of love -- making it about a lot more than sex.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written bychristopher18 February 11, 2019


Adult Written bySwaggy K. February 4, 2019

This TV Show Should Be Rated NC-17 And Should Have A Warning Contact So NetFlix And Can Verify Your Age

Pervasive Language Pervasive Sexual Contact
Mild-Drug/Alcohol Contact Mild-Violence Not Too Much.
If Younger Kids Are Doing Sexual Stuff Let Them Watch The Sh...
Kid, 11 years old November 11, 2013


it was for adults so it should be rated TV-MA.
Teen, 16 years old Written byAlex9987 July 5, 2019


Yes this show is smutty and should not be shown to children who have not reached puberty yet but teens are going to end up watching stuff like this anyway and i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the lives of pioneering sex researchers William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), MASTERS OF SEX explores the famed duo's controversial sex studies. From observing hundreds of people in the throes of ecstasy in a science lab at Washington University in St. Louis to challenging well-established theories about sex, impotence, and other taboo subjects of the time, the duo faces endless professional and personal challenges as they break ground in the field of human sexuality.  

Is it any good?

For viewers who have never heard of the titular William Masters and the groundbreaking work he did with his then-research assistant (and future wife) Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex will be a bit of a revelation. The lab equipment alone -- including a Plexiglas dildo with a built-in camera dubbed "Ulysses" -- is downright eye-opening. Still, when you get past the sex and nudity, which can hardly be avoided, you soon realize there's also some thought-provoking substance.

British actor Sheen (perhaps best known for his repeat portrayals of former Prime Minister Tony Blair in the film trilogy The Deal, The Queen, and The Special Relationship) pulls off a credible American accent as well as another great character who, in this case, is both respectable and unlikable. Still, the real charmer here is Caplan, who blends unflappable street smarts with a beguiling charisma that makes Johnson the real standout of the duo.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the real-life Masters and Johnson and discuss their work in a historical context. What were the 1950s and '60s like for human sexuality, particularly in how publicly it was discussed in social settings and in the media? Has history proven Masters and Johnson's research to be more or less relevant than it was when they initially published their findings?

  • How does sexism play into the duo's on-screen drama and their working relationship? Do women working in science still face the same challenges they did more than 50 years ago?

  • How accurate is Masters of Sex's portrayal of the real-life research pioneers and their work? Is it important for TV shows, movies, and other media to stay true to the facts when bringing the lives of actual people to life on-screen? What are the downsides of taking creative liberties with the truth?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas and biopics

Themes & Topics

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