The Borgias

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Borgias TV Poster Image
Murder, religious corruption, sex reign in historical drama.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Corruption, dishonesty, and greed are overarching themes, seeping into both religion and politics. There's also subtle (historically accurate) racism against Jews and people of color, including Moors.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everyone has an agenda, and that agenda is rarely altruistic. Even the pope -- who's supposed to be holy -- is duplicitous, taking mistresses, fathering illegitimate children, and ordering physical harm to others.


Blood flows as a result of sword fighting, murder, and torture. But there are bloodless acts of violence, too, including poisonings, suffocations, and neck-breakings.


Sexual content isn't constant, but it does include seduction, simulated sex, and male and female nudity. Other sexually charged topics range from rape, incest, and abortion to sexual fetishes and homosexuality.


Rare use of terms like "damn" and "hell." "Whore" is the iffiest insult.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking (wine, ale), but rarely to excess.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that violence and sex largely drive the plot of The Borgias. It's an adult-oriented costume drama that's loosely based on the exploits of a real-life "crime family," although sex often plays more of a secondary role. Language is comparatively tame, with rare use of words like "damn" and "hell," and social drinking takes place mostly in the background. The overall messages are that political power is gained only through corruption and that religion isn't necessarily sacred.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKennedy O. March 10, 2018

Pretty good, not appropriate for kids.

I put 18+ for the incest. That is my main reason, this family is literally known for the brother and sister sleeping together. There is ALOT of sex, and rape. L... Continue reading
Parent of a 10, 13, and 15-year-old Written byramccall67 August 8, 2015

Very Good Show, Not for kids......

i really liked this show. The acting was very good (Jeremy Irons)
Teen, 17 years old Written byPadfootjr390 December 27, 2017

For history lovers.

I think it is appropriate for people who want to watch historical dramas based on real life families . I fist watched this when I was twleve and i found it very... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byreviewergurl March 5, 2020

Great acting, a lot of sex

I originally started watching this show because of the fact that I'm in AP Euro and we were talking about renaissance italy. However, it's not the mo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on a notorious real-life family of the Italian Renaissance, THE BORGIAS charts the rise of ambitious patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons), a cunning Spanish-born cardinal who seizes power for himself -- and his children -- when he's elected to the papacy in 1492. With dutiful sons Cesare (François Arnaud) and Juan (David Oakes) standing at the ready and a pair of mistresses (Joanne Whalley and Lotte Verbeek) to please, Rodrigo turns his attention to marrying off his younger children, Lurezia (Holliday Grainger) and Joffre (Aidan Alexander), and securing the family's political fortunes.

Is it any good?

Thanks to a painstakingly scripted two-episode back story that lays the groundwork for political power plays to come, this series takes a while to get going. So if you tune in expecting a reincarnation of the sizzling Showtime costume drama The Tudors, The Borgias might feel like a letdown. That's not to say it fails to entertain; it just does so in a completely different way.

Whereas The Tudors served up graphic sex and passion with a side of violence, The Borgias largely flips the script, marketing Rodrigo and his offspring as "the original crime family." (The same family, incidentally, that features prominently in the adults-only video game Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.) That means carnage tends to outshine copulation, although sex still plays a provocative role.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how important violence is to the plot. Have the violent acts depicted on the show been exaggerated for the sake of entertainment, based on the information you can find about the real-life Borgias? To what degree does The Borgias take liberties with historical facts?

  • Does it surprise you to learn that a man who could be pope also had mistresses and fathered children? How do different religions and cultures deal with sexuality?

  • Is the show sending a message about religion or the Catholic Church? If so, what?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love historical stories

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