The Lottery

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Lottery TV Poster Image
Dystopian drama explores the business of baby-making.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show tends to portray the government in a calculating light, and, in many ways, it serves as the enemy. The world also has become far more cynical -- and sex-obsessed -- as a result of the infertility crisis.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are several strong female characters, and government leadership is pointedly diverse. Although most characters' morality lies somewhere in the middle, the main character only skirts authority in pursuit of protecting her work.



Some government/military characters carry weapons -- and commit murder. Dead bodies are shown, but there's not much blood.



Sex is simulated, but no nudity or sensitive parts are shown.



Audible words include several forms of "s--t," as well as gateway terms such as "damn" and "crap."


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, with some references to alcoholism and drug use.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lottery is set in a dystopian future where women have stopped bearing children due to an unexplained global fertility crisis. Given the show's premise, sex is an important part of the plot, but there's no nudity, only implied intercourse. Audible language includes several forms of "s--t," plus gateway terms such as "damn" and "hell," and some characters drink socially and refer to past problems with alcohol and drugs. There's some violence, too, typically stemming from the government and/or military, but very little blood.

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What's the story?

Six years after a worldwide infertility epidemic slows the global birth rate to zero, Dr. Alison Lennon (Marley Shelton) and her team of scientists have created 100 viable human embryos that are ready for implantation. To choose the women who will carry them to term, the U.S. government stages a lottery that's open to anyone. But just as THE LOTTERY offers much-needed hope, it also brings danger to those closely involved.

Is it any good?

Given the rising number of real-world families who are struggling to conceive, The Lottery's premise is certainly topical and could appeal to viewers -- particularly women -- who know the pain of infertility firsthand. But, in the end, this subpar Lifetime series doesn't measure up to its own promise thanks to weak production values, heavy-handed dialogue, and two-dimensional characters who don't feel fully relatable -- or believable.

One of the more interesting aspects of The Lottery is the social politics of a world in which women's fertility has become a matter of national security, resulting in a "Department of Humanity," a federal "Fertility Commission," and serious penalties for "fertility crimes." In many ways, women seem to have more power, holding key positions in government and science and taking charge of their reproductive prospects. Yet, when the dream of conceiving finally becomes a reality, their wombs are subject to the decisions of a male-dominant government.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about infertility and the real-world trends that sparked The Lottery's premise. How far-fetched is the idea of a global fertility crisis? How accurate is the series' portrayal of the way society -- and the government -- would react if it actually happened?

  • What are the legal and ethical issues involved with the lottery in the series, and how does the show explore them? Should the original donors have the right to carry their own eggs, for example?

  • Does the fact that women in The Lottery have stopped bearing children change the series' social dynamic when it comes to men, women, power, and gender? In what ways do childbearing and motherhood affect women's present-day options, both personally and professionally? 

TV details

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