Reign

 
(i)

 

Racy royal drama is guilty pleasure for mature viewers.

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Toby Regbo, Torrance Coombs
Network:CW
Genre:Drama
Topics:History
TV rating:TV-14

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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 movies is like the love of my life, so I watched it for her. Looking back that probably wasn't a good idea. Parents should know that this show is built on sex. Francis is sleeping around with some mystery woman who we see start to undress. The girls watch a marriage consummation with freakish interest that leads one to masturbation and an eventual sexual encounter with a married man. Also, Mary is nearly raped in an attempt to ruin her engagement. That aside I could go on about the violence, brief language, and horrible historical inaccuracies, but why bother. The show is just plain inappropriate. It teaches that casual sex is okay and that betrayal is necessary. Anna should've stayed in Narnia
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 with a supernatural twist. There is quite a lot of sex and sex appeal present in the show; nothing extremely lewd or graphically shown in nature, but frankly, it’s not the sex, violence or language that concerns me the most. And I’m sure that for those who have watched the show already, you know exactly where I’m going with this... Now when I first saw previews of this show prior to its release, I was excited. I love history. And I find royal history particularly intriguing, being an illustrator and designer. Historical clothing is one of my niches; and I've studied it in-depth for years. And after watching the first few episodes of Reign, all I have to say is wow, was this costume designer sketching up concepts for the show while thumbing through a Vogue magazine?! Obviously, every form of media, the producer of the content, be it literary, via TV, film, etc. that dapples in historical fiction, or even the retelling of true historical events has a lot on their plate, and a lot expected of them as far as accurately portraying the clothing, events, accents, dialects, architecture, etc. of the period. And I must say, Reign falls painfully short. As I said, all media forms are subject to taking creative liberties; we've seen inaccuracy in plenty of historical films and dramas; The Tudors, The Other Boleyn Girl, Borgia, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Marie Antoinette and more. But what sets these productions apart from Reign, is that you can tell that the producers have done SOME research as far as basic construction and layout of historical clothing, and for the most part, the creative liberties taken are rather slight in comparison to the purely modern clothing used in Reign. But then there's Reign: or what I like to call, "Ye Olde Beverly Hills." Young ladies of court walking around in sleeveless, shoulderless, low-cut dresses, strapped high heels, mini cardigans and long sleeved tee shirts over skirts? I'm sorry, what? The closest they come to devling into the 16th century is a Victorian corset that one woman is seen wearing while undressing. [And even THAT’S a pretty big stretch!] Probably what bothers me the most about Reign is that it has taken a wonderful opportunity to get younger audiences [the series is aimed at teens] engaged in and enthused about mostly ACCURATE history, and totally misses the mark. If you ever visit their Facebook page and read some of the comments by fans, young and old, a lot of them agree, there are major inaccuracies, but there are even more who adore the show for what it is, and some, that don't believe the outfit choices are incorrect! The shortest, and yet most fitting comment I found to describe this series is: “Gossip Girl in corsets.” I think that Reign feels too inconsistent and all over the place as far as their clothing choices are concerned. In the promo image they used before the series’ release, the trio of main characters is shown wearing clothing that looked more like storybook royalty, as opposed to true historical royals, but, it was MILES ahead of what was to come. Now, this more storybook feel of the court’s clothing continued for part of the first few episodes, and then randomly, we get girls running around looking like they’re gearing up for their high school prom! It’s as if the creators just arbitrarily insert whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like, as opposed to easing us into new concepts / their ideas, and it doesn’t work. The most painful part of this though, is that Reign has a decent story. For a stickler like me though, I just can’t see that far past the inaccuracies to thuroughly enjoy the show. For those of you who don’t care about those details though, Reign is a fairly decent show; I’d rate it on for teens 14 to 15 and older. As I said, there is some sex, language and violence, but of course, since it airs unabridged on TV, there isn’t anything extremely graphic in nature.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
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 flaws though. For one thing, there is a lot of infidelity and sex, probably more than there should be. Also this show is very historically inaccurate. There are a lot of simple time period flaws in the show that take away from the educational value of the story of Mary Queen of Scots.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

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