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 Musketeers is loosely based on Alexandre Dumas' classic novel but updates the material for modern audiences, adding sexually charged content and fast-paced, realistic violence. Although sex is mostly suggested with partial nudity (bare backs, for example) and heavy kissing, the main characters use swords, knives, and pistols (among other weapons), and there's considerable blood along with death and murder. In keeping with the period, language is comparatively light (think "hell," "damn," and "bastard"), with some social drinking to the point of drunkenness.
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What's the story?
Adapted from Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, THE MUSKETEERS centers on the fearsome foursome that comes together when young fighter D'Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) (Tom Burke), Aramis (Howard Charles). When King Louis XIII (Ryan Gage) orders Athos' execution over a matter of mistaken identity, it's up to D'Artagnan, Aramis, and Porthos to set him him free. Meanwhile, the king's closest adviser, Cardinal Richelau (Peter Capaldi), plots his own dark plans to seize power.
Is it any good?
Dumas purists -- an admittedly small number -- probably won't like that The Musketeers takes serious liberties with its source material. But even viewers who are just now meeting the French writer's iconic foursome will have some difficulties with this uneven BBC adaptation that begins with an overly complicated backstory and fails to fully make up for it with compelling characters and must-see action. Although older teens can handle the content, parents are a much more likely sell. In the end, though, they might not be willing to invest the time.
Equally disappointing is the series' reliance on sexual subplots, seemingly designed to give the women something to do. For even the most promising female character -- a cloth merchant's feisty wife (Tamla Kari) -- winds up dressing as a prostitute and baring her cleavage to help the "boys" get through security. The thing is, these women do have power, but it's largely of the sexual kind, which may not be the best message if you're shopping for positive female role models.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Musketeers differs from Dumas' The Three Musketeers and which elements have generally stayed the same. How important is it to honor the classics when refashioning them for modern audiences? What are the risks of taking liberties with well-established plots and characters?
To what degree does The Musketeers use sex and violence to draw in viewers? How differently might the miniseries be if it had been produced for American television rather than the BBC?
What role do women play in The Musketeers' take on 17th-century Paris? Are they generally strong role models or weak ones, and in what ways? Is the show's portrayal of women historically accurate?
Themes & Topics
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