Sharp Objects

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Sharp Objects TV Poster Image
Self-harm looms large in twisty, dark book-based series.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Themes include confronting one's past and moving forward confidently into the future, but images of self-harm and death make these messages too complex and mature for young teens to absorb. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complicated, make terrible mistakes -- no one, including main character Camille, acts in heroic ways all the time, though they are sometimes capable of brave and selfless acts. Minor characters engage in some stereotyping, like father of a murdered girl who says she was killed by "f--gots" because she wasn't raped and says he prefers that she died rather than being raped. 

Violence

Show's plot revolves around pair of murdered young girls. Their deaths are described briefly and we watch as the dead body of one is discovered, unnaturally pale and limp and streaked with blood. A woman self-harms by compulsively plucking out her eyelashes; another scratches, cuts herself with sharp things. A young girl's sudden death is seen in flashbacks, and her body is seen in a casket with grieving relatives at funeral. 

Sex

Nude body parts and images of couples having sex are clearly visible in pages ripped from hard-core pornographic magazines taped up on a building's walls. A woman masturbates in a bed and bathtub; we see her arm moving rhythmically and hear orgasmic moans. 

Language

Cursing and language includes "f---ing," "s--t," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "a--hole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol plays an important role. A woman has a drinking problem, drinks straight liquor. We see her drinking frequently, and see many empties in her car's trunk and lined up on edge of bathtub. She drinks before driving, hiding liquor in a water bottle and drinking at a bar before passing out at the wheel in a parking lot. Other characters drink cocktails, appear sloppy. A main character smokes cigarettes, as do other characters; three teen girls pass something they're smoking around; unclear if it's tobacco or marijuana. Teens steal a bottle of vodka from a convenience store. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sharp Objects deals with mature and possibly disturbing themes: the disappearance and murder of two tween girls; the sudden death of a young girl and its aftermath; characters who drink to deal with their emotional issues, and who self-harm, plucking out eyelashes compulsively and cutting themselves with the sharp objects of the series' title. Violence is not typically gory but may be particularly upsetting: We see the dead bodies of the young girls, one streaked with blood and unnaturally pale in an alley, one in her casket at a funeral surrounded by grieving relatives. We also hear the details of a teen girl's murder, and her father says he's relieved she wasn't raped and he prefers that she died rather than be raped. Alcohol use is frequent, as characters deal with emotional upsets by drinking and often appear sloppy and shaky. We see one character drinking in many situations, including at a bar and before and after driving -- at one point, she drinks until she passes out in her car, though she'd been planning on driving home. This character and others smoke cigarettes. Teens shoplift vodka from a store and hide it in soda bottles to drink covertly. Rhythmic arm movements and orgasmic moans convey that a woman is masturbating; ripped-out, taped-up pages from hard-core porn magazines show couples having sex. Rough language includes "f---ing," "s--t," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," and "a--hole."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byChrisd28 July 21, 2018

While this is breath taking it's. Not for kids

Ok so I know I said the show had a good message and it does it has the age old message of you can always go back home no matter what and the good rolemodel is t... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byErin S. August 24, 2018
Teen, 14 years old Written byIxonic.lovely August 1, 2018

Amazing

So I have just begun the show and I have to say it is explicit! (Remember I’m 14) in one of The scenes the main character has a flash back and in my opinion the... Continue reading

What's the story?

SHARP OBJECTS' Camille (Amy Adams) isn't exactly eager to revisit her abandoned hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. But when her editor suggests that Camille make a trip to investigate the disappearance of two local teen girls, she finds herself reluctantly reacquainting herself with her own past. She has an unhappy relationship with her mother, Adora (Patricia Clarkson), a complex attachment to her duplicitous teen half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen), and a host of shadowy traumas she holds Wind Gap responsible for -- as well as some very twisted ways of coping with her problems. Can Camille confront the ghosts of her past while making sense of the terrible crimes of the present?

Is it any good?

Dark, spooky, and nightmare-inducing, this tour through a sleepy-but-creepy town's secrets through the eyes of a damaged hometown girl is deeply, but enjoyably, unsettling. Creator Marti Noxon, tongue only slightly in cheek, calls Sharp Objects the capper in her "self-harm" trilogy, which also includes anorexia drama To the Bone and surreal body image takedown Dietland -- and if you're wondering what kind of self-harm is at the center of this series, the title is a big, bleeding clue.

Viewers may at first be disoriented by Sharp Objects' tendency to jumble the present and past, with flashbacks from Camille's troubled life often intruding into her complicated present. But give the drama some time and patience and it slowly reveals what it's really about: how the traumas from one's past can be papered over, but never forgotten. As you watch Camille grappling with her demons -- and picking away at a pair of unsolved murders -- this simmering drama will prove hypnotic to a certain type of viewer who doesn't mind revelations that are gradually and subtly meted out. Those who accuse Sharp Objects of moving too slowly have a point, but like Camille's ample scar tissue, it may grow on you -- and prove impossible to ignore. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why unsolved murders are such a common element of drama. What is it about murder that's compelling for an audience? Why do we like to solve the deaths of characters who are portrayed as innocent and young? Is it a thirst to see justice done -- or something else? 

  • Families can also talk about how Camille shows courage and perseverance in Sharp Objects by returning to her old hometown to face the demons of her past and to try to uncover information about two murders. Is hers a hero's journey? Why, or why not? 

  • Showing a character self-harming can be used as a visual shortcut to demonstrate emotional problems. Is it realistic in this drama? Is it exploitative? Is Sharp Objects drawing a comparison between the way Adora and Camille self-harm? If so, why? Depictions of self-harm are often said to be "triggering." What does that mean, and is it a fair accusation here? 

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