A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The political climate in the Radlett household changes as the Fascist/Nationalist movement gain prominence in Europe. Characters become involved in The Spanish Civil War, or are influenced by Nazism.
Be grateful for what you have. Friendship can transcend family relationships or romantic involvement. Time is precious: don't wait around trying to please others. Follow your passion. Forgiveness is heavenly.
Positive Role Models
Frivolous, passionate, impulsive Linda is not a perfect role model by any means: she leaves a smoking trail of burned bridges behind her. But her peers admire her passionate all-or-nothing approach to life and her joie de vivre. Her devoted cousin Fanny is loyal and true, but her fidelity to Linda leaves her craving reciprocity. The complexities of female relationships are explored in this series. Linda and Fanny have a deep friendship that's pretty high on the girls-just-wanna-have-fun index. This is an upper class European-centric series set in the 1930's that lacks diversity. Linda's Father ("Fa") is a racist xenophobe who thinks educated women are a waste of time.
Violence & Scariness
A violent and domineering father prizes the entrenching tool that he used to kill a German soldier in World War I. He beats Fanny, calls her belittling names because she attends school, and stands in the garden with his bullwhips, cracking them in time to opera music. His brutality softens over time, and is reduced to farce, but he continues to rant against women, Catholics, "huns," "frogs," "dagos," and foreigners in general. He upends a table and threatens to beat his daughter while she is lying on the ground. Wartime scenes of refugee camps, bombing raids, and wreckage. A character attempts suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Partial nudity in bathing scenes, in lingerie, and in bed. Kissing, implied sexual contact, moaning, dalliances in dressing rooms and in cupboards. A character says that she masturbates to the thought of Lady Jane Grey.
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Racist rants about "dagos," "huns," "frogs," and women set a violent tone. "Damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wild drinking binges. Nearly all characters smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Pursuit of Happiness is a miniseries based on Nancy Mitford's 1945 comic novel. Set against a 1930s upper-class British backdrop, this period piece focuses on the friendship of two cousins who survive rocky, if privileged, upbringings and explore the meaning of life as they see it. The father figure is a violent, wrathful man, whose racist, sexist, and xenophobic leanings are made light of (and played for comic effect). But the ripples of his rage are felt by his children who escape his dominance by attempting suicide, joining foreign armies, or obsessing over men they hardly know. A character makes light of the fact that she loathes her child, abandoning her, and calling her names. Scenes with partial nudity and sexual encounters are implied or briefly shown, but aren't graphic. Some wartime sights of bombed out neighborhoods and refugee camps are shown. Drinking and smoking in excess are common among socialites in this show who explore the madcap '30s nightlife.
Is It Any Good?
At times delightfully madcap and laugh-out-loud funny, at times frustratingly self-conscious and even cruel, this period piece has charming moments. The Pursuit of Love successfully brings to life the swirling, passionate, political feeling of 1930's Europe, thanks in large part to the rollercoaster range of James, who plays Linda. Her obsession with the man of the moment, or her political cause-du-jour, feels as focused as it is fleeting. Foiled by her serious, loyal, and grounded cousin and friend Fanny, Linda finds herself "lost" without Fanny, that is, until the next man shows up.
Though "Fa," Linda's father, is played to comic effect by Dominic West, his words don't go unnoticed by the females in the household. His rants about the perils of educating women, insults about his niece's body, and his violent rages against his children, might rattle sensitive viewers. Also distracting is the contemporary music played in momentous scenes, jangling the historical vibe. Jump-cut edits and montages tend toward the heavy handed. The ending falls a little flat after so much noise, color, and culture. But the ensemble's performances -- Fanny's subtle eyebrow raises, Linda's over-the-top hot and cold tantrums, and The Bolter's wry comic jabs, can effectively delight viewers who overlook the boorish behaviors of the era. Fun, escapist fare exists in this series for viewers who want to delve into a story about the intricacies of female friendship.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.