A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
It's tough to glean positive messages in a series about a serial killer who imprisons his caregiver, but messages about the value of therapy, honesty, and self-acceptance do come through, even if they're obscured somewhat by the dramatic tension.
Positive Role Models
Alan Strauss is a caring professional who genuinely wants to help his patients, including Sam, though of course he's furious and terrified about being imprisoned. Sam, naturally, is a more complicated character: He's murdered at least a dozen people and seems to sincerely want to stop, yet he's ruthless, self-centered, and terrifying.
This drama essentially has two main characters; both are White. Alan's Jewish heritage is an important element of the story and we witness Jewish customs, language, and objects.
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Violence & Scariness
For a show about a killer, most violence is off-screen and implied. In one scene, a man visualizes stabbing another bloodily with a broken piece of pottery; the scene is brief. There's some spooky imagery, like a baby with a skeleton-like face in a dream. We hear about murders, though they're not described in detail.
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Cursing and language include "f--k," "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Sam is a fan of a particular doughnut chain, and we hear a lot about the chain's iced coffee.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink at gatherings; no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Patient is a drama about a serial killer who imprisons his therapist in hope of receiving intensive therapeutic care. For a show with such a dark premise, the tone is marked by humor, with many moments in which the killer Sam (Domhnall Gleeson) and his doctor (Steve Carell) relate to each other on a real level and even seem to be progressing in therapy. There's some spooky imagery, such as a baby with a skeleton face and a man's fantasy about stabbing another man in the neck, and Carell's Alan is imprisoned in a basement in chains, under threat of death, even as Sam has picked out his next victim. Language includes "f--k" and variations of that word, as well as "s--t." Characters drink, but no one acts drunk. Alan's Jewish heritage plays a large part in the drama, as does his complicated relationship with his son.
Is It Any Good?
As a two-hander drama between two powerful actors, this series is a marvel, and each episode and the whole season itself is just long enough to spool out the dramatic premise. Steve Carell is, as fans already know, a remarkably sympathetic actor, and is his role as a therapist seems so thoughtful and reassuring that there are moments when the interaction between his character and Gleeson's Sam appears to be bearing fruit, mental health-wise. Of course, there's the small hitch that Sam has Alan imprisoned in his basement…and already has his next victim picked out.
One thing that's surprising about The Patient is the sheer amount of dark humor: Sam's obsessed with good food, and he's infectiously enthusiastic as he describes the rarified morsels he brings to his prisoner. As the tone seesaws between the lighter moments and the ones in which we see the menace behind Sam's charm, scenes in which Alan contemplates his troubled past with son Ezra (Andrew Leeds) and late wife Beth (Laura Niemi) are something of a relief. Given the escalating consequences in each episode of The Patient, and the time bomb built into the premise, don't expect that relief to last.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.