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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Patrick Melrose, based on the popular novels by Edward St. Aubyn, is a miniseries that tells the story of a rich drug addict working through some serious issues. The main character's childhood was a study in abuse and neglect at the hand of his wealthy but psychologically unstable parents, and the show includes many scenes of both drug and child abuse, including the rape of a child by a parent. Teen fans of Sherlock or Marvel's Doctor Strange may be interested in seeing the latest from Benedict Cumberbatch but this show is an intense descent into the ugliest parts of humanity without much reward.
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Very disturbing and uses profanity, drugs, sex on a regular basis. Not for children or Christians or religious.
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What's the Story?
We first meet PATRICK MELROSE (Benedict Cumberbatch), an educated, contemptuous, womanizing drug addict at the exact moment he learns of his father's death. The wry smile that creeps across his face upon hearing this news is our first indication that they didn't have the best relationship. Patrick travels from London to New York to claim his father's remains and immediately goes on a multi-narcotic bender. He proceeds to ricochet from the freneticism of cocaine to a sleepy Quaalude trip to the throes of heroin withdrawal, all the while having awkward encounters with the mortuary attendant, his father's old pals, and beautiful women. Throughout his drug binge, Patrick channels his father, spouting abusive quotes he remembers from his childhood. Eventually his reminiscences turn to flashbacks and we get to see the physical cruelty and neglect that has turned Patrick into the damaged person he is today.
Is It Any Good?
Benedict Cumberbatch gives it his all portraying this upper-crust Englishman, all brittle wit and cool aloofness who's so damaged he requires a daily buffet of narcotics to get by. When we see Patrick as an adult he comes across like a cross between Alistair Cooke and Hunter S. Thompson -- a pretty mess. It's in the passages when we see him as a boy that we start to understand the cruelty that was inflicted on him by his controlling, physically abusive father and neglectful mother. These scenes, which include rape of a child and its aftermath, are painful to endure and the it's a mystery as to what entertainment value there's to be had watching horrible people torment a young boy. That said, Patrick Melrose is beautifully filmed and Cumberbatch inhabits the role fully.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Patrick Melrose depicts drug use. Does it make it seem cool? Scary?
Does knowing what Patrick went through as a child make it OK for him to act the way he does as an adult? Is he a sympathetic character? Why or why not?
- Premiere date: May 12, 2018
- Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh
- Network: Showtime
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate