The Secret Circle

 
(i)

 

Witchy thriller has sexy edge that's best for mature teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most of the main characters intend to use their supernatural gifts for the greater good, but at least one lets the power get to her head and has trouble understanding the responsibilities that accompany her abilities. Social dynamics are complicated by a love triangle and a manipulative mean girl who likes to make her own rules, regardless of their effects on the group. Characters' loyalties are questionable and often difficult to determine. Viewers see a teen cope with the loss of a parent. On the up side, the teens must learn to get along for the sake of their powers.

Positive role models

Adults aren't always reliable role models, as many have secret agendas and seem willing to manipulate the teens' actions for their own benefit. Most of the characters acknowledge their responsibility to minimize the impact of their powers, but one in particular is reckless with hers and threatens lives because of it.

Violence

Sometimes teens use their powers to hurt or kill people, and other fights turn bloody. There's a consistent sense of doom lurking throughout the show, and malevolent witches use their powers to set deadly fires and induce drownings.

Sex

Kissing, some making out, implications of sex. Girls are shown in bras, and guys are shirtless at times. Complicated love triangles bring out the worst in some teens.

Language

Occasional use of "hell," "sucks," "slut," and words like "idiot."

Consumerism

Some advertising (for Bing) appears on the screen during the show, and characters from the series are appearing in commercials that air in conjunction with the show.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults sometimes drink and talk about being drunk. In at least one instance, teen witches take a mood-altering substance called "Devil's Spirit," with disastrous results.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that teens will be drawn to this supernatural thriller based on a book series by L.J. Smith partly because of its similarities to the author's other hit story, The Vampire Diaries. The stars of this show are teen witches (both male and female) who set out to uncover the truth to their families' mysterious past and master their craft now that their powers are in full swing. This being a teen-targeted drama populated by impossibly beautiful characters, love (or, at least, lust) is always in the air, and there's a sexy edge to the teens' relationships. Expect some partial nudity (bare torsos for guys, bras or naked upper backs for girls), intense make-out scenes, and the unspoken assumption of intercourse. Bullying, emotional manipulation, betrayal, and duplicitous motivations are integral to the suspenseful plot, and violence sometimes leads to death.

What's the story?

Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) is an average teen whose world is rocked when a fire kills her mother and forces her to movie into her grandmother's house in a small Washington town. Soon after she arrives, she learns that she's part of a coven of witches whose power is compete now that she's in the presence of her new peers, Diana (Shelley Hennig), Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy), Adam (Thomas Dekker), and Nick (Louis Hunter). When she finds a letter from her mother confirming her identity, Cassie is drawn into a world of powers, curses, dangerous adversaries, and long-hidden secrets about hers and all of the families in Chance Harbor. Things get more complicated with the arrival Jake (Chris Zylka), who brings his own mysterious past to the mix, and later the return of Cassie's father, John Blackwell (Joe Lando), who has his own set of secrets to keep.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This fast-paced thriller rides the supernatural wave to certain popularity among teen viewers, who will find many similarities between the Twilight story and this one, which also follows a newcomer to a small northwest town with secretive residents and a mysterious history. Here it's witchcraft rather than yin and yang of werewolves and vampires, but it's the enticing suggestion that things aren't always what they seem on the surface that beckons to thrill-seeking viewers. Of course, drop-dead gorgeous stars and complicated love triangles don't hurt, either.

Sexual content and violence are the main issues to consider in this show. The fact that they're witches doesn't make these teens any less susceptible to the social struggles of this age group, either, and instances of peer pressure, competition, and jealousy are even more glaring when the players involved have powers that can maim or kill. Generally the show's themes veer toward the positive, showing teens choosing the common good over personal desires, but there are some moments when selfishness and retaliation win out. On the plus side, the show is enjoyable enough that it's a truly fun watch for you and your teen to share.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of supernatural series like this one. Why are fans so drawn to shows about vampires and witches? Do you think this implies that people believe in the supernatural? Do you think this trend will pass, or is it here to stay?

  • What are this show's messages about relationships? Do you believe that destiny plays a role in love? What factors are essential in a successful relationship?

  • If teens have read the books upon which this show is based, talk to them about how the series compares to the original story. Was anything important altered for the show? Do you think this impacted the story?

TV details

This review of The Secret Circle was written by

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

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator Written byacamba October 17, 2011
 

Highly sexual content

I am a parent of a 9-year old who loves fantasy and magic stories but is a young-minded preteen who isn't ready for sexual content. After watching the first 4 episodes of The Secret Circle, I personally think it's not for any kid under 16. There is very graphic sexual scenes between high school students. They show two friends having habitual sex, with the boy doing it for fun and the girl secretly liking him. The scene is very explicit with showing the girl removing shirt and taking bra off with full back view. The only way there was no frontal nudity was that she was slightly angled. The latest episode had a high school couple about to have sex and showed foreplay by having whipped cream placed on neck and chest and then moving to the bedroom with girl only in lace bra and panty. It got even more explicit. So needless to say, this is not appropriate for children.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old September 8, 2013
 

cool Show!

AAAAH! I HAD TO COVER MY EYES . . . . because of sexual content. I watched it because it showed up on my Netflix saying "because you watched Switched At Birth", which is a pretty tame show, so I watched it. It has a great plot with some violence. Lot's of sex, though. A girl and guy have sex, and later he takes off her shirt and bra, but nothing is shown because she is standing at an angle. The main character and someone she has feelings for have sex, and the boy is shown with his shirt off, and her in her bra and jeans. Also, quick scenes of foreplay are shown, and then sex. So, lots of sex, but nothing mature tweens and teens can't handle :) I hoped this helped :)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 10 years old August 1, 2013
 

Not for my age...

Sure I am only ten, and I only watched the first episode. I read so many reviews. I wanted to see what it was like. It has a great plot. But this show should be about for 14 and up.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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