A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lizzie Borden Chronicles is a drama that fictionalizes the real life of suspected 19th-century murderess Lizzie Borden. Frequent blood and gore: A woman in white lingerie drives an ax into her dad's face as pulpy sounds reverberate on the soundtrack, a man is shot point-blank in the stomach and head, the skeleton of a dead baby is found in a trunk. Young viewers might find the violence particularly terrifying because it often occurs in the home, between family members. Viewers also may be confused by the liberties taken with the life of a real historical figure; this fictional Lizzie is an unrepentant murderess who relishes violence and her outcast social status. Cursing, including violent cursing: "ass," "hell," "damn." Characters drink liquor and beer on-screen.
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What's the story?
After the success of the more-or-less historically faithful account of the 1892 Borden ax murders, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, Christina Ricci returns as Lizzie Borden in THE LIZZIE BORDEN CHRONICLES. Clea Duvall also reprises her role of Lizzie's demure, sensible sister, Emma, but these two historical figures would never have imagined their lives seen like this. After the murders of their parents leave them orphans, Lizzie slowly but surely violently removes everyone who stands in the way of her dream: to be a rich, free woman living a decadent life without a care in the world.
Is it any good?
No, Lizzie Borden didn't spend the latter part of her life bumping off her father's creditors, random family members, and anyone else who dared to cross her. But if you're the sort of viewer who cares less about historical faithfulness and more about a campy drama featuring Borden in tight gowns and blood-red lipstick doing terrible things to people who stand in her way, you'll be in ecstasy over Lizzie. With plot lines running from grave robbing to poisoning to skeletons of secret children moldering away in a basement, Lizzie Borden is pretty much off the rails in terms of content, which is fun for a very particular type of viewer (if inappropriate for kids).
When a crowd of kids follows her, chanting the old "forty whacks" nursery rhyme, she pulls a (conveniently located) ax from a store display and whirls on them. One little girl stands stock still: "I'm not afraid of you," she whimpers. "Then you haven't been paying attention!" Ricci grinds out, deadpan. The show also depicts Borden's real-life friendship with a Victorian actress, which people whispered wasn't exactly platonic. In Lizzie, not only is the relationship physical but her new friend ushers Lizzie into an underground carnival of vintage debauchery: ladies in top hats, dapper men sipping absinthe, a bearded man in an elaborate gown. It's not history, but it's great fun.