The Man in the High Castle

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Man in the High Castle TV Poster Image
Violence, tension in gripping dystopian thriller.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Patriots fight fiercely and bravely for their political interests, but motives are often unclear or duplicitous. Members of the military are presented as cruel.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character Juliana Crain is brave and intelligent; co-lead Joe Blake is an untrustworthy double agent. 

Violence

Characters are killed suddenly on-screen, usually shot but sometimes beaten to death. There is a constant threat of death; many references to war. Torture is depicted on-screen with blood and creepy noises. 

Sex

Flirting, dating, kissing, references to sex. A woman's breasts are shown. 

Language

Occasional unbleeped cursing: "s--t," "f--k." Racial language: "Jap." 

Consumerism

Series is based on a sci-fi novel viewers may want to read after watching. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place at bars with characters drinking beer and cocktails; no one acts drunk. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Man in the High Castle is a dystopian science-fiction thriller with a dark tone; its premise is that the Axis powers won WWII, and the world is very different as a result. Characters operate under the constant threat of detection, arrest, torture, and death and engage in activities likely to get them into trouble. Sudden deaths, usually by gunfire by sometimes by bludgeoning, occur on-screen, as does torture; there's no intense gore, but viewers do hear graphic noises. Settings are frequently shadowy and dark, and military uniform-clad villains are given absolute power. Nazi and World War II iconography, including swastikas, appears frequently. Cursing includes four-letter words ("f--k," "s--t") and racial language ("Jap"). Expect flirting, dating, and kissing; scenes take place in bars with characters drinking. An overall air of despair predominates; the subject matter and tone is too mature and frightening for younger viewers. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymeghanbradley November 30, 2015

Nudity

We started watching this show based on the review from CSM. Unfortunately the review failed to mention that there would be nudity. A large element to overlook.... Continue reading
Adult Written bynathanc1 December 3, 2015

Warning: Nudity

As another reviewer stated - there is in fact nudity in three episodes. Seems like CSM only reviewed the first episode :\
Teen, 16 years old Written byfimmy December 3, 2015

Cool look at a alternate histoy

Great show if you're a history buff or just looking for something different. Not too much violence and I think a twelve year old can handle most gore anywa...
Teen, 14 years old Written byjustateen August 28, 2016

Really good

This TV show does not have as much violence as people are saying. There are some messages that are very violent but nothing anyone 13 or 14 can't handle. T... Continue reading

What's the story?

What if the Axis powers had won World War II? That's the premise behind THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, a bleak dystopian thriller based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. In this alternate reality, Nazis have taken control of the East Coast of the United States, Japanese powers own the western Pacific States of America, and in between there's a neutral buffer zone. But with the impending death of Adolf Hitler in 1962, this is but a fragile peace. Japanese official Nobusuke Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) realizes that with Hitler gone, his successor will use the Reich's nuclear weapons to drive Japan out of America. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos) is suddenly handed a film that seems to depict a different future, one in which the Allied forces won WWII. In her journey to uncover what this film means and the identity of its maker, the legendary Man in the High Castle, she soon encounters Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank), a new recruit to the underground American resistance who has secrets of his own. Together, Blake and Crane are on a collision course toward an uncertain future. Because the present can't be changed. Right? 

Is it any good?

Stylishly bleak and intriguing, this drama about an occupied America takes its time telling its story, a thrill for viewers who appreciate atmosphere over action and mystery over easy comprehension. The tension mounts steadily, but understanding what's going on, and fathoming the weight of the subtle developments shown on-screen, requires a mature and patient viewer. This drama's color scheme is overwhelmingly drab (blues, blacks, grays), its settings crumbling, its American people bowed by war and occupation by enemy forces, a type of sci-fi threat that has nothing to do with spaceships.

Yet as the lead American characters come to grips with the idea that the reality under which they live is only one way the story could have ended, in the real world political events threaten their very existence. Fans of twisty, moody sci-fi will eat this up with a spoon, but this is only whole-family watching for teens and up -- younger viewers will be alternately bored and terrified. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the premise of this show. Is it realistic? How would an Allied victory have changed America? What evidence do you see on-screen of how this drama's version of an occupied America has been affected? 

  • Read The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. How is this series different from the novel? What characters or scenes were added or taken away? What is the reason for these additions or deletions? 

  • The world of The Man in the High Castle is a bleak one. How does the show depict this? Consider visuals (costumes, settings, colors used in shots) along with plot and dialogue. 

TV details

For kids who love sci-fi

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate