Reign

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Reign TV Poster Image
Racy royal drama is guilty pleasure for mature viewers.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 32 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

With few exceptions, the series trades historical facts for fictional drama and makes no distinction between the two. Characters' true motivations are hard to decipher amid the shifting loyalties and personal motivations of greed and lust. Those in power face little recourse for acting on whims, and those who stand against them face threats to their lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mary holds tight to the hope that true love will win over even her staunchest enemies, but she's realistic enough to watch her back at every turn. Many, including most of those in positions of power, lie, threaten, buy, and manipulate their way to the top.

Violence

A bloody beheading is shown briefly, as is a woman's death by poisoning. Violent threats are commonplace among the powerful characters, and sinister plots threaten lives at every turn.

Sex

Sexuality is a powerful force within the castle walls, and it's used to exert power and to manipulate loyalties. Most of the content is more implicative than it is outright, but other scenes come right to the point. A newly wedded couple (mostly shadowed through hanging curtains) has sex in front of witnesses per the (supposed) custom of the time. In another scene, it's implied that a teen masturbates in a hallway (she moves conspicuously with her hand under her dress and breathes heavily) and then is interrupted by a man who finishes the job for her. Girl-on-girl action, prostitution, and dangerous sexual fetishes like asphyxiation are fair game. The network has made sexier versions of certain episodes available online.

Language

Rarely "ass" and other swear words.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasionally wine is consumed, in keeping with the customs of the time.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reign is a sultry dramatization very loosely based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. The show takes great liberties with historical facts, inventing characters to thicken the plot and manufacturing tensions between various players to heighten the intrigue. It also ramps up the sexual drama within the castle walls, presenting infidelity and casual sex as common behavior and showing some of it, including a shadowy bedroom scene and a brief but highly suggestive masturbation scene. Violence is another factor that's hard to predict, as bloody shots of beheadings or other trauma can pop up unannounced. The bottom line? This is far from a reliable history lesson, and some of its content is too risque for teens, but it is scintillating drama that entertains nonetheless.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3 and 10 year old Written bySteffauri516 November 13, 2013

Rather Disappointing; rife with inaccuracy

...The title of the review about sums it up. Reign is a show that [very, very, very ,very, VERY] loosely chronicles the teenage years of Mary Queen of Scots wi... Continue reading
Adult Written bycmaine December 8, 2013

A Great Show for mature viewers

This show is a great, and entertaining drama for older children to watch. My 15 year old is obsessed with the show, and my 13 year old is allowed to watch as we... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bylotrlove October 19, 2013

Inaccurate, over-sexualized, and frankly just corny

I'm a teenage boy okay, so mushy period dramas are not my thing, but I gave Reign a try for one reason: Anna Popplewell. Yes the actress of the Narnia movi... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNatRosy November 11, 2013

Good, but inaccurate

I think this show is very entertaining. It is not very close to the actual story of Mary Queen of Scots but it is an interesting take on it. There are it's... Continue reading

What's the story?

Scottish Queen Mary Stuart (Adelaide Kane) has returned to King Henry's Court prepared to fulfill her obligation and marry Prince Francis (Toby Regbo) to form an alliance between his native France and her homeland. The young royal hopes for the best in her reunion with her childhood friend, but instead she finds Francis hesitant to seal the deal and affronted by her efforts to reacquaint. Meanwhile, she develops an unlikely affection for Francis' illegitimate half-brother, Bash (Torrance Coombs), which doesn't go unnoticed by her intended's mother, the merciless Queen Catherine (Megan Follows). Guided by her resident seer, Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland), Catherine leaves no stone unturned in her efforts to secure her son's regal future, even if it means condemning to death anyone she perceives as a threat. With even the loyalties of her ladies-in-waiting in question, Mary is desperate for allies, and she finds one in a mysterious shrouded figure who strives to keep her safe from powerful forces that threaten her impending marriage...and her life.

Is it any good?

REIGN is trademark CW entertainment, taking a questionably marketable concept and dressing it up with enough sex, sabotage, mystery, stunningly gorgeous cast members, and more sex that teens will flock to it. This is no history lesson; in fact it's such a trampling of historical facts that if a statute of limitations still existed on the characters' likenesses, lawsuits would ensue. Some are entirely contrived –- including the essential piece to the gripping love triangle, Bash -– and others are rewritten to ensure good drama, most notably the historically inaccurate, strapping specimen of Francis. Happily, Mary's strong, opinionated demeanor holds to historical accounts, giving fans the validity of at least one standout representation to hang their hats on.

What Reign does manage to do is use superb cinematography and a magnificent musical score to modernize a 16th-century story enough that teens -– most of whom aren’t exactly prone to loving historical dramas –- will want to watch. On the upside, this may spark an interest in learning the real stories of these (and perhaps other) historical figures. On the downside, it relies heavily on racy sexual and violent content to keep them on the edges of their seats and wanting more. If your teens are mature enough to handle it, the series also touches on some intriguing points about how wealth and status enable many privileges but disqualify others -- like love, for instance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how wealth and power play out in this story. What role did they seem to play in the politics of this story's time? How different is this from current politics? Are there places in which a similar scenario exists today?

  • To what degree is sex used in TV shows to entice viewers? Is it necessary in series like this one? What, if anything, does it add to the content? Do you think its presence here excludes viewers who otherwise might have gotten something from the show?

  • Where is it acceptable to draw the line between historical retellings and pure fiction? What purpose does a highly dramatized story like this one play? Can it be relied on to teach viewers anything? Would it have been more or less successful if the entire story was contrived?

TV details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love history

Our editors recommend

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

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate