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 Royals is a soap opera about the troubled members of a fictional English monarchy. The show is chockablock with things that parents won't want young teens to see: characters popping pills and smoking marijuana, group sex, and a variety of sexual assaults, such as when a royal coerces a crying maid into performing oral sex on him or a man drugs a woman's drink, has sex with her, and records the results on his phone. Cursing is frequent and often sexually tinged: "whore," "bitch," "p---y." Vulgar English expressions such as "fanny" and "tosser" also are used. One character's mother was killed in a politically motivated incident, and other members are in danger from terrorists and other miscreants.
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What's the story?
In a modern-day England, the fictional family behind THE ROYALS is going through a terrible time. After the sudden, shocking death of heir to the throne Prince Robert, the rest of the family is left to deal with the fallout. Icy Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) is determined to keep up appearances at all costs, as her husband, gentle King Simon (Vincent Regan) is shattered by his son's loss and starts threatening to petition Parliament for the dissolution of the monarchy. Now their younger son, Prince Liam (William Moseley), is next in line for the throne -- that is, if he doesn't self-destruct or his father doesn't get the whole family thrown out of the palace. Party girl Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) isn't helping matters by falling apart publicly, while her scheming uncle, Prince Cyrus (Jake Maskall), might have entirely more nefarious plans for his family members.
Is it any good?
The Royals is the very definition of a guilty pleasure, with beautiful faux celebrities behaving badly in ways most of us would secretly like to try: swigging down a bottle of "1942-something" liquor, dancing on nightclub tables, slamming petulantly into the backs of limousines as screaming crowds wave flags and cheer. Certainly fans of the real-life English royal family, particularly those who swoon over Kate and William, can imagine The Royals as a sort of alternate history if Princess Diana hadn't been killed. Tabloid readers can smack their lips over the depraved antics, sumptuous settings, and wacky hats.
But there's a darker sensibility at work here that makes this show unsuitable for young viewers. Women are assaulted: once in a cringeworthy scene in which a prince forces oral sex on a quivering, crying woman and once in which a man proudly explains to a woman he put drugs in her drink before having group sex with her, filming it, and blackmailing her with the film. These things do happen in real life, but these plot twists are hardly good, soapy fun. Rather they're sensitive and potentially traumatizing concepts that parents will want to discuss with kids and teens most carefully. If you must allow teens to watch, be sure to watch along to counter any worrisome messages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this show is realistic. How do you think royalty really behaves behind closed doors?
How does the royal family in The Royals stack up against the real British royal family? Does Queen Helena have a real-life counterpart?
The Royals has luxurious and eye-catching settings. Would the show be the same if it were set in a plainer environment? Why do you suppose the creators of this show chose to use such fancy trappings for the drama?