By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Complex, moral leading man sells British period drama.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
This period drama reflects the time and place in which it's set, with strict class divisions and gender roles. Even so, some characters challenge the unwritten rules, as does Ross by opting to marry below his status and by sympathizing with the plight of the lower class. Betrayals and manipulations are common, even among family members and married partners.
Positive Role Models
Ross is no saint, having been a gambler and smuggler, but he's also honest, decent, and loyal. He values people over money and power, and he won't be bribed. Others around him (and many in his family) are less upstanding, and some aim to undo him through trickery and manipulation.
Violence & Scariness
Brief scenes of war show people shot and stabbed in graphic detail. Some fighting and dueling and one near drowning. Illness also leads to death. The issue of marital rape is a plot point in one season.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some brief but steamy bedroom scenes, no nudity. A character clearly has a foot fetish. Characters sometimes visit sex workers but nothing is shown.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking during meals and as a means of escaping difficult emotions is common among adults, but it's not taken to excess.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Poldark is a drama series set in late 18th-century England, shortly after the American War of Independence. As such, many cultural truths stand out as different from what exists today, particularly related to women's roles and the issue of socioeconomic hierarchy. All this makes Ross Poldark a pleasant oddity -- a member of a privileged family but one who lives by the values his father taught, including hard work and respect for the common people. The story doesn't shy away from harsh realities such as illness, war, and death, and there are some potentially upsetting incidents of each, as well as some steamy bedroom scenes.
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Based on 14 parent reviews
Poldark - morally wrong
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What's the Story?
POLDARK follows the return of Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) to his Cornish home after fighting in the American War of Independence. But with his father dead, his inherited estate in shambles, and his sweetheart, Elizabeth (Heida Reed), betrothed to his cousin Francis (Kyle Soller), Ross must pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Against all odds and the advice of many, including his wealthy but unsupportive uncle Charles (Warren Clarke), he attempts to reopen his father's copper mine and rebuild his tenancies. Fate also sends him a new chance for love in the unlikely form of a runaway named Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson).
Is It Any Good?
Based on the Poldark novels by Winston Graham, Poldark is a sweeping drama about loss, love, grief, and vindication. Ross is a complex, powerful central figure whose refusal to give into other people's influence makes him an anomaly, and ultimately a beacon of morality, among an otherwise prototypical cast of characters. That's not to say that everyone around him is bad; it's just that they toe the line of status quo with far more vigor than Ross does, and in an environment where privilege and money tend to make the rules, it's always refreshing to see someone stand for liberty, equality, and common decency. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Turner is rustically handsome, war wound and all.
You don't need to have read the books to enjoy this beautifully crafted series set to a beautiful soundtrack and the matching backdrop of the English countryside, whose post-Revolutionary British point of view isn't a familiar one, at least on the American side of the pond. With its intriguing cast of tortured souls and master manipulators, and the struggle of some between duty and desire, many equally fascinating stories are being told simultaneously.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the time in which Poldark is set. How was England affected by its loss in the war? What economic repercussions did it suffer? How are these matters illustrated in this story?
Is Ross the only truly sympathetic character in this series? Which, if any, others go against the tide to chart their own course? Are they better for it, or do they suffer because of it?
To what degree has the class system changed in England since the time period in which Poldark is set? Would you say that one exists in modern America? Does this series do a good job setting its historical scene?
- Premiere date: June 21, 2015
- Cast: Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Kyle Soller
- Network: PBS
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: June 30, 2022
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