Mr. Selfridge



Period drama shows dark side of living too large.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Selfridge turns buying and selling into a competitive sport and enthusiastically champions consumption. The show gleefully celebrates the glamour and beauty of acquiring, with long scenes of the camera lingering on crystal, china, fancy gowns, perfume, etc. The birth of the modern department store started here and consumption is uncritical. Viewers can, however, see the consequences of nonstop spending onscreen.

Positive role models

Selfridge is unfaithful to his wife and extravagant with company money; these misdeeds have consequences that are shown onscreen.


Some scuffling and mild fistfights.


Selfridge enthusiastically cheats on his wife with younger women, usually stylish celebrities. He is shown in bed with his wife as well as other women, kissing, often fully dressed. There is flirting and double entendres; few characters seem to take their wedding vows seriously.


Some insulting language directed at the poor: "She's nothing but a bit of gutterslosh" sneers one character about another.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters frequently drink at parties and may act drunk or flirty when drinking. One character uses cocaine unapologetically; Selfridge himself is a teetotaler. Some characters smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mr. Selfridge is a biographical series about an early department store maven that features lots of scenes of adultery, though folks are mostly clothed and discrete. One main character is addicted to cocaine, and there are many scenes of characters drinking at parties; some people act aggressively or flirty after having drinks. There are many scenes where characters are insulted for not being attractive or wealthy enough. The rise of the department store may not be a subject that interests younger viewers, but teens, especially those with an interest in fashion, may want to watch and parents may enjoy watching with them. If so, parents may want to make points about the downside of reckless consumption and unchecked consumerism.

What's the story?

Jeremy Piven is MR. SELFRIDGE, the self-made scion of legendary London department store Selfridges. But when we meet him, he's just a loudmouthed American meeting resistance from the Londoners who aren't interested in a Yank coming over and trying to tell them how to run things. Selfridge has boundless confidence when coming up with new ways to promote his store, and a lot of adoring things to say to his faithful, long-suffering wife, Rose (Frances O'Connor) and four children. But in private, he cheats on Rose with a succession of free-living dancers and socialites and will do just about anything to keep his business going. Meanwhile, the smiling phalanx of employees who serve his customers each have their own stories to tell...and their own secrets.

Is it any good?


PBS marketed Mr. Selfridge as a vintage cousin to its much-beloved Downton Abbey. But though this drama comes similarly wrapped in period-correct hairstyles and velvet gowns, it's no Downton. The acting is a bit more over-the-top; the plot points are less absorbing; the characters not as finely drawn. Nonetheless, particularly for those who enjoy whiling away hours in a bygone world, Mr. Selfridge is a fun little melodrama with incredible costumes, sets, and art direction.

Piven himself makes an enjoyable huckster, sweating and straining to make people notice his store. He hires everyone from famous ballet dancers to Sherlock Holmes in pursuit of free publicity with P.T. Barnum-ish zeal. Then he rolls in bed with his wife and tells her how very much he loves her... just before he sets his mistress up in an apartment. The antiheroic hero is in style these days, popping up in The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, amongst other spots. But there's something about Selfridge, or possibly the way Piven plays him, that makes him harder to watch (and to love) than those other characters. Maybe that's why Mr. Selfridge is merely entertaining instead of addictive.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ideas Selfridge had about shopping and how the experience of shopping has changed. Do shop attendants help you with your purchases in stores now? How is shopping different in our modern times?

  • Is the audience supposed to like Selfridge? Admire him? Or draw cautionary lessons from his life? What about the way he is presented makes you draw this conclusion?

  • Do you know any other TV shows that take place in a bygone setting? How is Mr. Selfridge alike? How is it different?

TV details

Cast:Frances O'Connor, Jeremy Piven
TV rating:TV-PG

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byTheAlice12 June 5, 2015

Suitable for Teens and Tweens

This dark drama about the department store Selfridge's is quirky and interesting, however kids under 12 may find it boring as it is aimed at older viewers. There are a few sex scene throughout the series, however none are graphic and the scenes always cut after the couples jump into bed. Characters have affairs when they are married, which younger viewers may not be able to understand. A main character becomes addicted to cocaine, plus two characters have an abusive alcoholic father who hits them (it never shows the actual scenes, just the aftermath, of which a character says they "fainted and hit the bathtub" when someone questions their bruises. Many characters are shown drinking wine. Language isn't over the top, mostly da** and the occasional bit** Overall, this show is more suitable for more mature tweens and teenagers. The show itself is very interesting (especially for people interested in fashion) and good for fans of The Paradise, Downton Abbey and other TV period dramas.
Adult Written bySamanthamaster1 November 20, 2014

I absolutely love this show!

This is such a great show, because, it's educational in two ways, history and business, it's educational in history, because, they show how life was in the early 1900's. This show is also educational in business, because, it's about harry gordon selfridge who owns a store called Selfridges and co in london, england and he knows how to attract customers so they will shop at his store. I can't wait for season 3 to air in March 2015. I recommend this show for adults and children 13 years of age and older. I think most kids 12 and under will probably find the show boring and the show might be over their heads. I have been watching this show since it first came out on Sunday March 31, 2013.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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