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Servant

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Servant TV Poster Image
Spooky series has great twists despite slow pace.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

"Parents sure love their kids a lot" is about the only positive message to be gleaned here, but even that message is shot through with horrific ideas about just what lengths this love can make parents go to. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are duplicitous and not to be trusted; twists are doled out sparingly and often their effect is to make characters less likeable. Dorothy is fragile, emotional, and shifty (though she puts on a front of being powerful and responsible); Sean can show surprising streaks of cruelty and betrayal. Leanne is hard to read: we know something's "wrong" with her, but we're not sure what. The show has some fat-sharming messages (Sean says his job is feeding "butter and cream to fat people"), but makes sharp points about socioeconomic status and satisfaction (i.e. money doesn't equal happiness).  

Violence

Violent moments are few and far between but can be sudden and shocking when they arrive: a man lets a baby's head hit the side of a crib with a loud thunk, live eels are nailed to a cutting board, a character finds strange foreign splinters in his throat and toes. The death of an infant drives much of the action in this movie, and the possibility of further menace to another baby and/or the parents looms constantly. 

Sex

Language can veer towards the crude (Sean doesn't want to be judged by Leanne if he "jerks off" at home in middle of day), and characters have implied sex, but what we see onscreen is kissing before the camera cuts away. A character is seen in the bath, but her private parts are hidden by the water and a book.

Language

Language includes "f--king," "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and language for body parts and sex: "jerk off," "tits," "p---y."

Consumerism

The Turners have fancy jobs, a fancy house, and a fancy lifestyle; Leanne pointedly comes from a less well-off background. However, it's clear that the Turners' wealth hasn't granted them peace or happiness. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine at home and at gatherings; in some scenes, characters drink heavily and get sloppy. One character takes a drink and says "One for the pain," clearly handling emotional upset with alcohol. An 18-year-old refuses a drink, citing her age. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Servant is a dark TV series about a couple who's suffered a tragedy and whose life goes from bad to worse when they hire a nanny to care for their infant son. The deaths of children drive much of the horror of this series, and though we don't see them depicted onscreen, children and other characters are in constant, often mortal, danger. We do see other violence: live eels are nailed to a cutting board in preparation for cooking, a character allows a baby's head to hit the side of a crib. Characters have an affair; we see them kissing before the camera cuts away; a woman is nude in a non-sexual context (taking a bath), but her private parts are covered; in another scene, a character kneads her breasts to help with a breastfeeding issue, but most of the breast is covered. Adults drink wine at dinners and don't act drunk, but in some scenes, drink more heavily and talk about the drinking helping with emotional pain. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," along with crude words for sexual acts and body parts: "tits," "jerk off." A couple's wealth is underlined, but it's clear that their socioeconomic status doesn't bring them happiness. 

User Reviews

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Adult Written byMyMovieOpinions January 13, 2020

JERICHO Is The EMMYS 2020 Award Winning Episode

This is the episode that encapsulates the series SERVANT - full of mystique and revelation and discovery. What is so fascinating about JERICHO is that while the... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

After a terrible tragedy and loss, a wealthy couple, Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean Turner (Tony Kebbell) hire a young SERVANT to look after their infant son, Jericho. But all is not as it seems, with the Turners, with Jericho, or with Leanne, whose stilted speech and placid expression hides some very dark secrets. What are her intentions? And even stranger, just what kind of family are these people intent on making? 

Is it any good?

Strange, eerie, and compelling, M. Night Shyamalan's buzzy series is simultaneously engrossing and leisurely -- one might almost say it creeps along while giving you the creeps. Viewers who have seen a scary nanny story before will guess right away that Leanne's "Up to Something" when she pulls up to the Turner's house in the driving rain, even before she gives strangely terse answers to their many questions, and sends off signals that she has an unusual bond with Jericho. For his part, Sean isn't a lot easier to like or to understand -- though he calls himself a "professional bon vivant," we witness a horrific part of his "consulting chef" work that involves nailing live eels to a board, and it's clear from his flat statement to his wife about Leanne ("She's staff") that he sees a great distance between himself and the humble young woman he's employed. 

But though Shyamalan is judicious about how quickly he doles out his signature twists -- he's said in interviews that it'll take six seasons to tell Servant's complete story -- the atmosphere is chock-full of juicy tension, and the actors are more than up to the challenge of teetering on the edge between sympathetic and horrific. Speaking of sympathetic characters, Rupert Grint is a hoot as Dorothy's ne'er do well brother, nailing a spot-on American accent and a role so far away from Ron Weasley that viewers will quickly forget they watched Grint grow up onscreen. Servant isn't a hurry to get anywhere, but tenacious viewers will find their patience rewarded. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Servant's violence. How much takes place on screen versus off? How much is seen versus implied? Does that approach soften the impact of the violence? Why or why not?

  • How does Servant compare to Shyamalan's movies? How is it similar? How is it different? What is he known for? Does this series continue Shyamalan's traditions, or does it break them? 

  • How does storytelling differ on a TV show versus a movie? What types of stories can be played out in longer segments instead of told all at once? Are series' intended to be just like long movies, or are they a different medium? Which do you prefer? 

TV details

For kids who love mysteries

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