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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 Pure is a drama about a woman struggling with a distressing mental illness that's connected to sex. There's a lot of strong sexual content, but also impressive positive messages connected to courage, communication, self-control, and the value of working gradually to understand and cope with one's own limitations and strengths. Main character Marnie is seeking and finds professional, therapeutic, and other help for her problems while she is working towards creating a satisfying adult life with friends, a job, and a purpose. She sometimes stumbles and makes mistakes, but she makes amends and grows and improves over time. Sexual content is often connected with Marnie's mental illness; she sees flashes of people who are nude or involved in sex. We see breasts and buttocks, thrusting motions, people moaning, same- and opposite-sex kissing, and visual references to oral sex. There are also references in the dialogue to body parts, oral sex, group sex, bestiality, and other mature matters. Language includes "f--k," "f--ked," and "f--king," as well as "s--t," and words for sex and body parts: "tits," "p---y," "c--k," "wank," "finger bang." Characters drink at gatherings and clubs. One character often drinks as a way to gather courage. In one scene, we see her drinking mouthwash and vodka and then vomiting. The cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and sexual identity, and characters are realistic and relatable.
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What's the Story?
For as long as she can remember, Marnie (Charly Chive) has struggled with a problem she thinks is utterly unique: she's unable to stop having intrusive sexual thoughts. As we meet her in PURE, she humiliates herself at an anniversary party for her mom and dad and flees her small Scotland town to move to London, staying with her old school friend Shereen (Sonia Sawar). She doesn't have any prospects for employment, she doesn't know how to go about fixing her fractured mental health, and she doesn't even know how to start making a life for herself. But slowly, surely, Marnie starts to put the pieces together.
Is It Any Good?
Charly Chive is radiantly mesmerizing as a young woman with an unusual mental illness in this high-quality British import about intrusive thoughts and the havoc they can cause. Her condition sounds like a dirty joke, and Pure could have gone so, so wrong if it attempted to wring comedy out of her distress. Instead, Pure is on her side, and so are we, after we get a load of what Marnie's particular psyche does to her. Unable to relax in even typical situations, she's bedeviled both by her thoughts and by recriminations over the thoughts. What kind of person would think the things she does? She must be a perv, a loser, utterly unsalvageable; there's something wrong with her, and she can't even figure out what, much less how to handle it.
The scene in which a new pal nails down what's going on with Marnie is a tearjerker, plain and simple. Finally, with a name for her condition, she has hope. "There are millions of people as f--ked up as I am. I've finally found my community," she thinks to herself joyfully. And it's true: this is a turning point in which she can begin to understand why her mind works as it does, and begin to shift both her thoughts and her perspective to ease her pain. It's a slow process, and it might be painful to watch if Pure focused solely on Marnie's mental strife. Instead, we also see Marnie as a whole person: new to a city, casting about for a career and friends and a purpose. It's funny, and it's sad, and you'll want to watch every beat of her story, which is tortured and difficult, but as we see, rather ordinary all the same.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the challenges that come with importing a show from another country to the United States (and vice versa). Would Pure have been a good choice for American network or cable TV? What are some of the differences between American TV and television from other countries? Are there topics that folks in the U.S. may be more uncomfortable with than people in places such as the United Kingdom, and vice versa? Why?
Families can talk about relying on taboo topics to be funny. Is this appropriate? Should shows that deal with serious situations, such as mental illness, rely on taboo humor? Or is it OK to find humor in these situations? Are we laughing at or with Marnie and her situation?
How do Marnie and the other characters on Pure demonstrate communication, courage, and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?
- Premiere date: July 1, 2017
- Cast: Ryan Robbins, Alex Paxton-Beesley, Peter Outerbridge
- Network: Hulu
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Self-control
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Quirky, mature U.K. comedy; cursing, strong sexual content.
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She's Gotta Have It
Lyrical Spike Lee series has language, lots of graphic sex.
For kids who love dark comedies
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