Patrick Melrose

TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Patrick Melrose TV Poster Image
Joyless miniseries dwells on drug use and child abuse.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This is a series that wallows in cruelty and self-loathing.



Positive Role Models & Representations

Nearly everyone in this series is the opposite of a role model. 


Young Patrick is physically, sexually and psychologically abused by his father; adult Patrick engages in a variety of self-destructive behavior.




Oral sex between two adults is implied; as a child, Patrick is sexually abused by his father


Many instances of "f--k;" "s--t." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Patrick is a drug addict and uses heroin, cocaine, and Quaaludes, in addition to cigarette smoking and lots of drinking. 

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byweepingangel November 16, 2018
Adult Written byC Smyth July 15, 2018

Very disturbing and uses profanity, drugs, sex on a regular basis. Not for children or Christians or religious.

Very disturbing and uses profanity, drugs, sex on a regular basis. Not for children or Christians or religiou
Teen, 13 years old Written byFlaker2rule August 5, 2019

I loved it

It’s a grate show love the performance from benedict Cumberbatch
The starts with drugs alcohol drugs smoking sex rape swearing but a bit more in the second ep... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byvintage.retro August 15, 2018

Amazing acting and great story but has some rather disturbing and inappropriate scenes.

This show is outstanding but it has very disturbing scenes involving drug use and rape. There are many scenes that contain sexual content and in one you see the... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dark drama

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