The Great

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Great TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Fun, bawdy period series is full of swearing and sex.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's a comical look at the rise of Catherine the Great but highlights how women and other subjects were treated at court and beyond. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Catherine goes from being romantic to being shrewd very quickly. Peter is very insecure, but can be sly and cruel when crossed. 


Pistols, rifles, swords, and daggers are visible. Punching, physical assaults, and animal shootings are commonplace (and often meant to be funny). Wars are discussed, and grotesque images of people handling severed heads, etc., are shown. Lots of items are thrown and shatter against walls. Peter is occasionally physically abusive toward his wife, and often abusive toward others around him. References to rape.


Strong sexual innuendo, including conversations about virginity and simulated sex acts. Nudity (bare bottoms, breasts) is visible. Crude references like "whore," "c--t," and "p---y" are often used. 


Lots of strong language, ranging from words like "goddamn" and "bitch" to "s--t" and "f--k." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine, vodka, champagne, and other liquor consumed. Drunken behavior is frequently visible.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Great is a dramatic comedy series about Catherine the Great and her experiences as Empress of Russia in the late 1700s. It contains strong sexual content, ranging from frequent crude innuendo to simulated sex acts and nudity (bare breasts and bottoms). There's lots of cursing, including frequent F-bombs, and physical assaults and animal shootings are frequent (and often a source of dark humor). Grotesque images of severed heads, bloody wounds, and other acts are also shown. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjadax1dlover January 6, 2021

reviews are over-exaggerating!

the show was based in the 1800s so what did y’all expect of course it’s going to be a lot of sex and swearing. but other than that that this show is really grea... Continue reading
Adult Written byAmewarashi February 12, 2021

Entertaining but

Contains too much sex scenes, swearing, blasphemy, violence
Teen, 14 years old Written bygabil April 6, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written byNOUHZ September 23, 2020

An extraordinary show, but... not for kids

Okay so I walked into this show blindly not knowing what to expect at ALL, and I was pleasantly surprised.

As the title card says, this and occasionally accur... Continue reading

What's the story?

From The Favourite co-writer Tony McNamara comes THE GREAT, a dramatic comedy series about the rise of Catherine the Great. Elle Fanning plays the young and romantic Catherine, who is sent off to Russia to marry the self-absorbed and untalented Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult). Upon arrival, she is forced to deal with her husband's womanizing and abuse, and must find companionship among the empty-headed ladies of the court, including the vindictive Lady Antonia Svenska (Danusia Samal) and Lady Georgina (Charity Wakefield), the wife of the Emperor's best friend, Grigor Dymov (Gwilym Lee). Meanwhile, her every move is monitored by the Archbishop (Adam Godley), who is responsible for the marriage. But with the help of her maid Marial (Phoebe Fox) and the intellectual Count Orlov (Sacha Dhawan), she begins plotting a path toward becoming one of the great rulers of all time. 

Is it any good?

This fun, adult-oriented period piece tells of the rise of the young Catherine the Great through a successful blend of historical drama and campy, slapstick humor. It stays true to some accurate history about Catherine, including her love for education and the arts, as well as her desire to build a more progressive and powerful empire. But the storytelling process also relies on physical comedy and bawdy hypersexuality. This is mostly used to highlight the absurdity of Emperor Peter's court, which is ruled by an insecure man who is often ridiculous and, when crossed, cunningly cruel. Some of the comic devices feel a little too repetitive at times, but these are easy to get past, thanks to Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult's superb performances of their mercurial characters. Overall, The Great is smartly written and well produced, making it binge-worthy entertainment. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the story of Catherine the Great. What aspects of her life are presented accurately in The Great? What of her story is changed for dramatic or comedic effect?

  • Is it necessary to include a lot of swearing or sexual content for a series or a movie to be funny? Even if it's geared toward adults? Why or why not?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love historical fiction

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