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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Iffy messages about the role of women are period-correct and ultimately subverted -- women are clearly strong characters with agency, though they are told that their worth is in their appearance and that "refinement" and marrying a rich man is crucial to their future.
Positive Role Models
Characters are complex, often dark: one self-harms, one has a cruel streak, another is contemptuous of fellow students who aren't as rich, popular, and pretty as her. Authority figures aren't always caring about the dependents they're in charge of. Female characters are central to this drama, and women have strength and individual quirks.
Violence & Scariness
Long periods pass without violence, but when it does occur it's shocking and bloody: A man attempts to sexually assault a woman and ends up with a pitchfork in his foot (we see the fork going into his shoe and dark blood gushing out as he screams); a young girl is forced to show a teacher the self-harming marks under her bloomers and has rubbing alcohol applied as she screams.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
This series is frank about bodies and their functions: A crying tween girl is made to lift her skirt to show her bloomers (we see her from behind), whereupon a teacher tells her that her "monthly blood has arrived" and she can now "have a baby." A woman's nude buttocks are briefly visible during a dream sequence.
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Language is infrequent and tends toward the vintage: "tart," "t-ts," "ass," "bastard" (meaning a person born to unmarried parents).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol from time to time, particularly those coded as unreliable or villainous, like a man who drinks from a flask before trying to sexually assault a woman.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Picnic at Hanging Rock is a period drama about a group of schoolgirls who vanish on a trip to a strange rock formation. Violence is infrequent but shocking: A man's foot is impaled with a pitchfork while he's trying to sexually assault a woman, a young girl has bloody marks on her body from self-harm that her teacher sadistically "cleans" with rubbing alcohol. A woman's bare buttocks are briefly visible during a dream sequence. Characters drink alcohol, including a man who slugs from a flask before attempting to rape a woman. Language is infrequent and period-correct: "t-ts," "ass," "tart," "bastard."
Is It Any Good?
Sensual and creepy at the same time, this update on a classic Australian tale has beautiful visuals and a fairytale-like mystery at its center. How could four girls climb a rock but only three come down? Fans of the classic 1975 art-house movie of the same name (or the equally classic 1967 novel) will note that though the underpinnings of this version of Picnic at Hanging Rock are the same, the characters are smartly updated. In 1975 Mrs. Appleyard was a tight-bunned patrician great aunt-type and the girls ethereal and indistinguishable nymphs in white dresses. In the 2018 version, the headmistress is a woman with a Secret Past, and each student is sensitively sketched, particularly free-spirited tomboy Miranda.
Dormer's Mrs. Appleyard is also a measure more cruel than her 1975 predecessor, particularly to charity ward Sara (Inez Currõ), whose legs are laddered with self-harming razor cuts that Appleyard douses with rubbing alcohol while dispensing hard-earned wisdom about the world. How did she earn said wisdom? Watching that unfold -- along with the many other secrets of the many other characters -- is one of the many pleasures of this fascinating, slow-burning series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.